I survived the recent birthday and celebrated in style! A trip to Buckingham Palace was a dream come true--though meeting the Queen is still firmly on my bucket list as she was not there. The first thing I did while rounding the corner near St James Park was look to the sky. The Palace flies a standard Union Jack when the Queen is not in residence and the Royal Standard when she is. My heart sank a little when I saw the Union flag, but just walking the halls of history was more than enough for a first visit.
The immensity of this experience struck me the moment I stepped through the doors of the palace. Tears sprang to my eyes immediately as the history, pageantry and romance all combined to hit me head on.
I ascended the grand staircase to the ballroom imagining I was meeting the Queen for a Royal Ball. The fact that one of my favorite walking shoes had separated from the sole before I arrived and was now held together with some large rubber bands, did not deter me from exuding what I had hoped appeared as regal charm. How many had walked this very same path as I trod now? How many whispered conversations, important deals and horrible secrets had been spoken in these rooms? And how many had been born, died and lived between these royal walls.So many possibilities swirled through the air. Ghosts of the past floating on the glittering dust trails in the afternoon sun.
90 years of the Queen’s fashion was the special exhibit lining the ballrooms and was a feast for the eyes-even if a little claustrophobic-- as the many visitors all jostled for a closer look. The exquisite detail on both Her Majesty’s wedding and coronation gowns were a highlight, but it was fascinating to watch the way she not only kept up with the changing silhouettes through the decades, but also wore them all effortlessly with style and class. Many commented that now, at 90 years old, she looks better than ever and I have a tendency to agree!
Although I planned to cap off the day with Tea in the garden, the lovely café I had been expecting was more of cafeteria line to feed and water the masses, so I passed. Ah, reality never seems to creep back in slowly…
Buckingham Palace is only open to the public for a couple months out of the year, so I am grateful the timing worked this trip. If you have an opportunity to visit, it is well worth the trip and the reasonable price of admission goes toward restoring and maintaining the stately residence.
The final room on the tour was the Throne Room. I stood there thinking of all the Kings and Queens that had sat in that same spot- some of the older thrones still visible on the outskirts of the room- and was reminded of the dreams of a little girl wishing to be a princess. I may be past my princess prime, but that hasn’t appealed in decades anyway, I still have time and now I am going for Empress. I think it suits me much better :-)