England 2000

I didn’t meet the bearded stranger. To be honest, I didn’t even notice him among the thousands of people. I am introduced to a few people at each garden party but not to all the guests.

Everyone seems to enjoy my garden parties, here at Buckingham Palace. The people who come have done something good like public service, or they work for organisations which can reward them with an invitation. They are all sent smart gold-rembossed souvenir invitations. They queue at the gates in fine clothes, the women often in hats, and the band plays wonderful music to welcome them. They have to hope for good weather as no-one is allowed in the palace itself.

When the bearded stranger was there the sun was out, so he and his wife would have wandered the gardens, looking at the flowers and shrubs, the pools, the statues and the tennis court.  And they would have admired people’s dresses and visited the tents. The tents serve tea and nice sandwiches, bite-size ones of course. There are scones the size of large coins, with cream; there are miniature cakes, slices of fruit cake - but none of my favourite Rich Tea biscuits.

The stranger probably met up with some friends and he probably lined up to look at me as I walked back to the Palace through the gardens, after the reception where I met the special guests of the day. The band was still playing and I remembered that I wanted to have a sharp word with the bandmaster after the party was over. I am the Queen of England, and I am not insensitive to matters of class in my country. Why did the band play Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Bow, Bow Ye Lower Middle Classes’ when the guests were arriving?