Wet lawn, manicured gardens, palace background, atmospheric dampness uneasily lingering awaiting its signal once again to release the lifeblood of our world ... but not that day ... let the Picnic at the Palace begin.
|Buckingham Palace, the gardens|
and road layout in 1897
I just hope the 5,000 lucky ticket holders, each bringing one guest, had waterproof rugs to sit on ... it looks like there were some garden chairs ... but it was a real picnic setting ... while I’m sure their adrenalin rush had settled in and they’d have enjoyed the occasion any which way ...
... an invitation into the gardens at Buck House, a delicious picnic, a grandstand seat for the Jubilee Concert afterwards, and then all those unique memories that none of the rest of us will have had.
|Waitrose lorries being security|
checked in The Mall
Waitrose supplied that picnic – and this is their story ... a special convoy of lorries set off from Bracknell (just west of Windsor) at 3.00 am, driving north to the depot in Leicester! ....
.... picking up the 13,000 picnics, and driving south again to Buckingham Palace ... Waitrose say it was a carefully co-ordinated operation ... but to me seems slightly cracked! – driving north to drive south ... but who am I to wonder!
|Waitrose's message to the Queen|
The convoy job was over-subscribed ... then 17 of their drivers were finally chosen ... a prestigious job that comes along only once in a lifetime as one driver noted and who felt he was honoured to have been chosen.
One of the big challenges was keeping the lorries in the correct order on the roads, as they had a special message for Her Majesty typographically set atop the vehicles .... probably not seen by many ... what a great idea: ... the eight lorries had the words interspersed with one ‘emblematic’ lorry ...
Ø to Her Majesty on
Ø her Diamond Jubilee
Ø from Waitrose
|Her Majesty the Queen|
with Katherine Dewar
The 11 year old, Katherine Dewar, from Chester, designed the winning Diamond Jubilee Emblem. The top 30 children, from a submission of 35,000 entries, attended a special tea party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate their achievements.
|Katherine Dewar's design|
The winning design will be seen by millions on everything from posters to commemorative tea cups for many years to come. It features a crown poised above the Union flag with columns of diamonds down either side.
The Diamond Jubilee picnics were donated by Waitrose, and created over six months by world-renowned Michelin chef, Heston Blumenthal, in conjunction with the royal chef, Mark Flanagan, who had catered for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding – remember that!?
|Mark Flanagan & Heston Blumenthal|
... there were 10,000 lucky ticket holders, while the other baskets would go to the organisers and technicians working behind the scenes, before we were entertained with the Diamond Jubilee Concert.
|Picnic Basket, poncho and some contents|
Wicker Hamper ... chilled country garden soup, followed by tea-smoked Scottish salmon and Diamond Jubilee chicken. Dessert was a strawberry crumble crunch, crown-topped chocolate cakes and a cheeseboard served with chutney – a picnic fit for the Queen – washed down with Moet champagne, beer and/or water.
|The contents of the picnic (enlarged)|
|Steel drum, pan|
The Queen had tried every dish – the royal seal of approval had been given and all diners were able to enjoy their fare to the sounds of a steel-pan band from St Vincent and the Grenadines (one of the Commonwealth countries) contributing to the picnic atmosphere.
A number of Royal purveyors are offering ‘take-away’ picnics or products eg Fortnum and Masons; Paxton & Whitefield’s (Cheesemongers) offer this ‘Fit for a Queen cheesecake’ made with cheeses with a royal association, for example Auld Loghnagar, made in the shadow of Balmoral Castle. (Oh! and I’m not sure this cheese was included ... but the photo quite delighted me ... so that is here!)
|Paxton and Whitfield Cheesemonger's 'Jubilee cheesecake'|
Heston’s decision to stick to traditional style simple foods with a twist met with general approval ... the contents were ...
ü Garden soup made with plum tomatoes, cucumber, mint, oil and vinegar
ü The potted salmon includes Lapsang souchong tea-smoked Scottish salmon with crème fraiche, lemon and fresh chives
ü Fresh bread rolls and butter
ü Diamond Jubilee Chicken featuring a blend of spices*
ü Vegetarian option: mushroom parfait
ü Crudités of celery, carrots and red peppers
ü Two cupcakes: lemon and caraway Madeira; and chocolate indulgence cupcake decorated with a chocolate crown ... and sprinkled with popping candy
ü Strawberry compote, meringue, cream, elderflower cordial and rosewater (the organic Florence strawberries were grown on the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, harvested and frozen last year in preparation for the picnic – very forward thinking and probably a good thing in the circumstances of our weather this year)
ü Cheeseboard with West Country farmhouse cheddar and Red Leicester crunch (I knew there was a reason to go to Leicester!) ... served with Duchy Originals (founded by the Prince of Wales in 1990) – oaten biscuits and harvest chutney
ü Drinks: Moet & Chandon champagne, Cobra beer or Hildon water (natural mineral water from beneath the chalk hills of Hampshire)
ü Extras: 12 hand wipes; clear plastic cutler; napkin; poncho and flag
|Enjoying the picnic regardless of the weather|
There was a drinks table ... where the champagne, beer and water could be collected ... and I’m sure coffee and tea would have been available too.
* Heston Blumenthal’s first job was in a curry house (per Wikipedia) – which might explain his interest in spices, but not his scientific approach to cooking that pervades his recipes now – as he seeks the future of food.
Well life for the rest of us returns to normal ... while for the Royals life goes ... the Queen has been up in Nottingham today, with her grandson and his wife, opening playing fields for the local schools – part of the Diamond Jubilee tour – under the auspices of the ‘Fields in Trust’ charity.
Prince William in giving the speech today said “My grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, who very sadly cannot be here today, has been president for 64 years”, while the Queen has been patron throughout her reign.
|Picnickers enjoying the fun ...|
The Queen then went on to Burghley House for a Diamond Jubilee Picnic, while her husband remained in London at Buckingham Palace recuperating.
Yesterday the Queen, with other members of the Royal family, hosted a jubilee garden party for 3,500 guests at Sandringham – all of those invited were being recognised for their contributions to local communities. 10,000 macaroons had been baked for the occasion.
The next major event is to celebrate the Queen’s official birthday on Saturday, 16th June, with the Trooping of the Colour, which travels between Buckingham Palace, The Mall and Horseguards’ Parade. Let’s hope the Duke can make some form of appearance.
And as Alice might have said ...
They’ve changed the guard at Buckingham Palace –
When Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
They have big picnics now inside the grounds.
I wouldn’t be Queen for a million pounds” ...
c/o When We Were Very Young (1924) by A. A. Milne
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