Danny’s phone rang, of course when you’re away from home on a work assignment you do nothing different. This includes answering your phone while your wife is trying to keep the children under wraps amongst the masses of tourists pouring through the front door of Hamley’s in London. I was less than impressed!
The phone call didn’t last too long but what came next is a lasting memory. The call was to inform Danny and I were invited by Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II to have afternoon tea at Royal Ascot the following day. This was our third trip to Royal Ascot where we took Group 1 winning horses to compete against the World’s Top Sprinters. Needless to say we were speechless!
Not everyone gets a chance to meet Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II, so it was no wonder I found myself reading up on how I should behave. While no one is dictated by law to act a certain way around the royal family, most people adhere to royal protocol. These are a set of social rules set up to outline how the family interacts with members of the public.
I stuck to tradition and showed my respect to the Queen by a small curtsy. She also offered her hand for a handshake. She said it was lovely to meet you Mrs. O’Brien to which I replied it was my pleasure Your Majesty. When you first greet the Queen you should refer to her as “Your Majesty,” and then call her “ma’am” from then on.
HRH sat next to Danny and they chatted about horses and her grandchildren. She is an extremely knowledgable lady and very engaging. She made us feel comfortable in her company. Although it seemed daunting at first it was comforting to see how polite and gracious the Queen is, and in actual fact if any of us at the table did make a mistake HRH would definitely NOT make us feel bad about it.
One thing I must say took me by surprise, half way through afternoon tea the Queen pulled her lippy out of her handbag and re applied it at the table. Without the help of a mirror, now that’s something! I guess practice makes you perfect. Unfortunately it is against royal protocol to ask HRH for a photograph but I managed to snap a pic with my phone of the table setting where we sat. (this was prior to her entering the room)
I guess you’re all wondering what I wore. Well as soon as the phone call came though I dragged the family (much to my children’s disappointment) out of Hamleys and down Bond Street London for some serious shopping. I was thrilled to be buying an outfit fit for the Queen.
So where does one go shopping when in London and has a date with the Queen….MISSONI. Missoni is one of my all time favourite designers and I was certain I would find the appropriate attire in there. And there it was, the perfect dress with sleeves and a hemline no shorter than than above my knee. I was sorted. Luckily I had a Kim Fletcher hat I had packed for a race meet that same week at Royal Ascot.
It truly was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Danny and I still talk about it and cannot believe we have sat at the table with Queen Elizabeth II.
Below are pictures of our trips to Royal Ascot over the years.