Dinner at Buckingham Palace

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When an invitation like this arrives, you don’t say “no”!

In my case, you do say, “What to wear?!”  Nothing in my closet would do as a cocktail dress didn’t seem right for the occasion.  So, off I went to Harvey Nichols with my personal stylist, aka my daughter Jackie.  If you want brutally honest advice, go shopping with a 16 year old daughter!   As I pulled prospective dresses off the racks, Jackie glimpsed up from her iphone long enough to give me an utterly disdainful look and mumble, “you’re kidding right?” After many misses, we settled on a dress she approved; a simple, brushed silk long gown with a soft cowl neck in a deep gunmetal green. The thing that “topped it off” (quite literally) and made it feel truly fabulous was the green fox shrug that a friend recommended.

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Hair done, make up applied, legs shaved, nails painted…I was ready for action!  Jeff and I arrived by taxi and were driven directly up to the massive gilded gates that usually remain an impenetrable barrier, keeping the tourists at bay while the guards do their daily dance in front of the palace.  Last night, the gates parted upon our arrival. I immediately asked one of our fellow guests to snap a photo. Very classy, I know!

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I thought the occasion also called for a Palace selfie!

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The Palace literally glows in the evening, and it was made even more luminous by a full moon that enhanced its magical aura.   Jeff and I walked through the gates, passed the palace security check, and made our way across the small stoned path through an arch and into the inner courtyard of the palace grounds.

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No photography was allowed once we entered the grand reception room. Jeff and I had visited these rooms several years ago when Kate’s wedding dress was on display for the Queen’s Jubilee. The surroundings felt familiar but so much more special when the ropes and stanchions are removed, the crowds are gone, and the hosts welcome you with a glass of champagne!  As requested, we ascended the grand dual staircase up to the state rooms.

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We were ushered through the great hall of art, as Rembrandts, Caravaggios, and Renoirs glanced down at us from their perch on the walls. I couldn’t help but think of how many amazing people they’ve laid eyes on over the years!   We had cocktails in an exquisite blue room with an ornate gilded fan ceiling. The waiters served our drinks in crystal goblets embossed with the Royal crest and ER insignia of the Queen.  The initials stand for Elizabeth Regina, the Latin form of Queen Elizabeth II.

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The mingling crowd hushed as The Duke of Edinburgh entered through a set of grand doors. He looked both dapper and quite well given his 90+ years and past bouts of ill health. He made the rounds and graciously shook hands, chatting amiably with all of the guests. I was told you are to address him as “Your Royal Highness” upon first meeting him and then refer to him as “Sir” thereafter.

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There was another person who created quite a stir.  While we speaking to a fellow guest, he was called away to assist at the front gate of the palace. Apparently Harrison Ford was having difficulty gaining entry! I learned that Mr. Ford has been in England shooting another Star Wars movie that just finished filming. He skipped the wrap party to attend dinner at the palace. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to introduce myself and talk to him about Jackson Hole, a place we both call a second home. It turns out that the first house he owned in Jackson was in our neighborhood! Small world.

Soon, the Duke came over to us and told us it was time to enter the dining hall.  I told him he was “leading the charge”. To which he replied dryly, “Somebody has to!”

The banquet room was extraordinary in scope and grandeur. The picture below represents almost exactly what it looked like for our dinner.

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We were about 40 people gathered around the table. I was surrounded by fascinating conversation as a famed sculptor sat to my left and a distinguished wildlife film director sat to my right.  Jackson Hole entered the conversation again as the filmmaker is an avid fly fisherman and has spent a lot of time in Wyoming. He and Jeff compared rivers and fishing experiences, instantly creating a connection despite our vastly different backgrounds.

Before dining, we rose with the Duke to offer a toast: “God save the Queen!” The meal was delicious: smoked salmon to start, beef with vegetables to follow, and an apple tart to finish. Our place settings had specific glasses for each of the four wines served with the meal. They were small cut crystal goblets, again with the Queen’s insignia embossed on each. There was a crisp white wine, rich red wine, sweet dessert wine, and luscious port. I drank every drop!

Everything was served seamlessly by the well-rehearsed staff. A women seated near me at first declined the port and then decided she would like some. The waiter had passed her and apologized as he explained that protocol demanded that he return to her only after completing service around the entire table. Apparently, there is no going back at the Palace so don’t turn anything down when offered! The dinner ran like clockwork, and once coffee had been served and final speeches had been delivered, the Duke rose and wished everyone a good night.

Once again, the guests followed his lead.  Just before departing, I made my way to the royal loo, sneaking a verboten picture!

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Jeff and I stepped into the crisp evening air and departed as we entered, through the massive gilded palace gates. I asked the guard if he would take one last picture. He happily agreed, suggesting that we stand in front of the gates with “The Office” behind us.

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 The dinner may have been just another day at “The Office” for the Duke, but it was a completely enchanting experience for me….

In fact, I felt like a princess!

 

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Wawan September 9, 2015 at 9:06 am

– Hi Kim,We saw the Roscoe froggy butt photo on the Mid Atlantic Bully Buddies FB page and was woenirdng if you would let us share the photoon our FB page. We would of course leave your watermark on there and it would have no changes and we would credit you and Mid Atlantic Bully Buddies in the text.Let us know! Love your photos!!HannaThe Unexpected Pit Bull Facebook moderator

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