Last month, ladies from every WI in the country descended on Buckingham Palace to attend a special Royal Garden Party, hosted by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall to mark the Centenary of the WI. One of our members, Teresa was lucky enough to have one of the golden tickets and has kindly told us all about her day:
Attending the WI Royal Garden Party was a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience which I will never forget. I met some amazing ladies from all around the country – some who, like me, had only been WI members for a couple of years, while others had been involved for over forty years. Most of our conversations took place in the queue to get into the Palace which, although it took over an hour, was a very good humoured affair, if a little windy at times!
Photos were not allowed inside the palace so all of mine were taken while queuing. Everyone had to show ID, which explains the long wait, but we were all too excited to notice the time.
Once through the Palace rooms, we found ourselves looking down onto the lawns from a beautiful terrace. It was just a sea of colourful hats and fascinators, with the striking outfits of the Yeomen of the Guard dotted around. We managed to see each member of the Royal party as they made their way down to the Royal Tea Tent: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Princess Alexandra and the Duchess of Gloucester. They spent time chatting to people and each of them seemed warm and friendly. The biggest cheer of all, though, was saved for the Calendar Girls as they also made their way to the Royal Tent.
The rest of us were content with the Main Tea Tent, which did not disappoint: a fabulous array of tiny cakes and pastries, plus finger sandwiches of course – delicious! Time flew by and it was soon time for the Royal party to process across the lawns as they departed – we managed to get a front row spec (at last) and were able to get a great view as they passed. Someone near me began to sing ‘Jerusalem’ at that very moment, and soon everyone joined in – I found it extremely emotional and felt an incredible bond towards the other ladies (all 8,000 of them!)
I loved every minute of my time at the Garden Party and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful event in the history of the WI – I just wish we could have all been there!