Last Wednesday, a number of residents from Perth and Kinross were invited to attend the Royal Garden Party at Holyrood Palace. Although The Queen was in residence, she did not attend. This year the Garden Party was hosted by Prince Charles – The Duke of Rothesay, as he is known when he visits Scotland, The Princess Royal and Sir Timothy Laurence, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex – known as the Earl and Countess of Forfar when they are in Scotland.
The Queen welcomes around 8,000 people at The Garden Party to spend a relaxed afternoon with her in the beautiful grounds of the Palace. Garden Parties are an important way for The Queen to speak to a broad range of people from all walks of life, all of whom have made a positive impact in their community. On the day of the Garden Party, the Palace gates are open from around 3pm. The Party officially begins when The Queen accompanied by other Members of the Royal Family, enter the garden at 4pm, when the National Anthem is played by one of the two military bands present.
There is a beautiful atmosphere in the gardens with the music from the bands and The Royal Scottish Pipers Society. While they continue to play a selection of music, The Queen and Members of The Royal Family circulate among the guests through ‘lanes’. Each takes a different route and random presentations are made so that everyone has an equal chance of speaking to Her Majesty and other Members of the Royal Family. The Queen then arrives at the Royal Tea Tent, where she meets further guests. Guests are free to eat, drink and stroll around the beautiful Palace gardens.
These lanes and the ‘Grand Circle’, where the members of the Royal Family reconvene, are created by The Royal Company of Archers, who are The Queen’s official bodyguards in Scotland. Since 1822 the Company have been available for duty to The Sovereign anywhere in Scotland.
The selection of guests begins very early and is normally completed by the end of January each year. Guests are invited on the recommendation of a large number of national organisations that submit lists on a pre-arranged quota. For example, the government, Lord-Lieutenants and organisations such as the Civil Service, Armed Services, Diplomatic Corps, charities and societies, all have quotas for nominations. This ensures that a representative cross-section of the community is invited and that guests are generally people who have made a substantial contribution to their various organisations or society. Often, there is also an Investiture prior to the Garden Party where Honours and Duke of Edinburgh Awards are presented. In Perth and Kinross, the Lord-Lieutenant makes every effort to ensure that a wide cross-section of the community is reflected in his Garden Party nominations and it is unusual for anyone to attend a Garden Party more than once. Gentlemen wear morning dress or lounge suits, while women wear day dress, usually with hats or fascinators. National dress and uniform are also often worn.
More information about Garden Parties is available on the British Monarchy website: www.royal.gov.uk