Rockinghorse joins Royal Patron at Queen’s Garden Party

A week today we had the honour of attending Her Majesty The Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

As guests of our Royal Patron, Princess Alexandra, we had the pleasure of attending the prestigious event on Thursday 31 May. The invite marks what was truly an incredible 2017 as we celebrated Rockinghorse’s 50th anniversary.

During our Golden Jubilee year, we had the absolute pleasure of welcoming Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra, as Royal Patron of Rockinghorse. Prior to her patronage, it was Princess Alexandra’s Lady-in-Waiting, Lady Mary Mumford, who had been our one and only charity Patron since 1967.

When our invites arrived in the post back in April we couldn’t contain our excitement! Although it felt a way off, the day came around quickly and even though the Sussex skies were full of cloud and rain, we were pleasantly surprised (and relieved!) that the weather in London was bright and cheery.

Lining up outside the Buckingham Palace gates at 3pm, there was excitement in the air as we patiently queued with other guests eagerly awaiting to walk through to the palace forecourt. As we entered the gates, snap-happy tourists were keen to get a look in case they spotted a celebrity, and in a way, we did feel like celebrities as we were guided through the main forecourt to enter the palace.

Our route took us through a couple of the state rooms to the back of the palace on to the main lawn, which was awash with guests and lined by huge tea tents. We were extremely lucky to be stood at the front of the main crowd ready for the national anthem and The Queen’s entrance at 4pm – and what a moment that was…

Wearing a beautifully vibrant shade of turquoise, The Queen was joined by her grandson Prince William as they walked down the steps to greet diplomats who were ready and waiting on the lawn. With such a fantastic view of both The Queen and Prince William, it was an amazing moment to watch them interact with select guests and overhear conversations – including talk of the Royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

We were then greeted by our Royal Patron, Princess Alexandra, who congratulated us on a successful 50th anniversary fundraising appeal, following her visit to the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton to mark her patronage, last July. Her Royal Highness also kindly posed for a picture with our CEO Ryan Heal, Appeals and Trusts Fundraising Manager, Louise Bartha, Challenge Events Fundraising Manager, Hannah Seltzer, and PR & Communications Manager, Cheryl Piper (pictured at the top of the page).

The Queen, Prince William and the Royal party were then taken through to the Royal Tea Tent which was our queue to make our way to the main tea tent for sandwiches and cake (which were absolutely delicious by the way). There was a fantastic buzz in the tent and everyone had dressed for the occasion and really looked the part.

At 5.30pm, The Queen and Royal party exited the Royal Tea Tent and we joined other guests to form two aisles for Her Majesty to walk through back to the palace. With the evening sun beaming down on the palace grounds, it was our opportunity to take advantage of the access all areas granted to The Queen’s private gardens. We couldn’t believe how wooded the gardens were, which resembled parts of Sheffield Park. It was certainly easy to forget we were in central London as we meandered around the 3-acre lake and enjoyed the smells in the rose garden and views of the arboretum.

The end of the tea party came all too quickly, and it was time for us to depart the palace back through the main gates. Even a week later, our Royal afternoon in the presence of The Queen and future King is still sinking in. It certainly was a truly memorable occasion which we will cherish for a very long time.

Take a look at all our pictures from the day on the Rockinghorse Facebook page.

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