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Fit for the Queen

Fit for the Queen

Hello! A warm welcome to Gloriously Vintage today.  I am writing about the marvellous Day Out I enjoyed at the end of September. 

 

My husband and I went to Buckingham Palace to see the Exhibition of HM the Queen’s clothes -“Fashioning a Reign“.  This day was very special because it was the first time I had been to Buckingham Palace to see the State Rooms that are open to the public in the Summer when HM The Queen is at Balmoral her home in Scotland.

 

The summer has been different for us this year. 2016 is my 60th year and a lot of diverse things have been happening to us as we have celebrated, I started my Blog in February and we decided to get on with having a new kitchen and to create a downstairs cloakroom (rather like Harry Potter) under the stairs.  Our house is very small and therefore the impact of the changes we were making hit us hard.  One week into the project we suffered a serious flood in the kitchen due to a faulty valve that was traumatic, but could have been much, much worse.

 

I love a challenge and as we lost our kitchen inside the house, a kitchenette was created in the garden, in our little summerhouse and in the strong concrete shed in the garden. It is amazing how resourceful one can be and at the beginning of August it was summer!  I believe completely in the saying “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”.  It certainly forced some creative thinking to find a solution to not having a kitchen.  We have a dear little Summerhouse at the bottom of our garden.  As it has mains electricity were able to set up a comfortable kitchenette. The kettle, toaster and microwave all fitted in with a basic supply of cutlery and cups and plates.  We have two comfortable chairs and a table and chairs there already so it worked very well.

 

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I am relaxing in  our Summerhouse/Kitchenette after work.

 

My washing machine went into the concrete shed which also has mains electricity. As I provide all the materials for my Housekeeping Service it was essential to be able to continue with laundry throughout the project.  After the flood our kitchen fitter created a temporary sink on the terrace outside the kitchen with a cold water supply.  We had a gas BBQ in the garden too although this was not as appealing as the space around it turned into a builders yard!  It was a bit like camping.  At first the novelty of it all made it rather fun. As the weeks went by it was not as much fun and we were getting tired as meal preparation and laundry was taking a long time to do.

 

A great perk was to go out to eat after work on days when it was raining!

 

My laundry schedule for work and home and also my mother was working, but very slowly in comparison to how I work with the washing machine in the house at my disposal round the clock. As the power and water were “off” at times I had to agree with our fitter to have the power off in the mornings only which stopped my morning laundry schedule at 8.30am and pushed more into the night hours to maximise time.

What we were not prepared for was the length of time this would all take. August and September have been interesting and October is starting with phase 2 of the project which I hope will be far easier.  It is now Autumn so I am glad that I am not still using my garden kitchen and having to do all the “cooking” using our microwave oven in the summerhouse!  Glenn and I have continued to work almost full time throughout these weeks and have needed the British stiff upper lip, stoically carrying on when days have been challenging!

 

So dear Reader you can see from this backdrop a Day Out seemed like a beacon of hope and delight.

 

We went on a coach tour to London. I was losing heart through the summer as the dates for the Tour were not easy to free up due to work commitments.  I was thrilled when a last date was added -so we made our booking  –  we were going.  I had read about Fashioning a Reign and my friend went to see it at the beginning of the summer -so I heard how marvellous it was.

 

I was born in 1956, three years after the Coronation.  All my life I have known the Royal Family as HM The Queen was just slightly younger than my mother.  Like my mother, she has always been a constant fixture and reference for my life.  As I have grown older I have come to appreciate more and more the amazing life of service, the sacrifices she has made and now what a wonderful role model she is for living a full life into your eighties and nineties.

 

So dear Reader, I needed an outfit that would be fit for the Queen.

 

At first I planned to wear end of summer colours and it was just before the autumn equinox.  It started as my outfits often do with a choice of handbag.  This naturally leads on to shoes and then the rest of the outfit follows.  I definitely wanted to wear vintage style rather than trousers which would have felt too casual for me.

This was all sorting itself out swimmingly until I realised that my feet would probably not survive the day because of my shoes! So dear Reader, I decided to go and purchase a pair of flatter shoes that I would be able to walk in for longer.  I own some Hotter shoes that are lovely plain almond toe court and they have a low heel – they are my concession to being 60 years old.

 

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My “Shimmy ” Shoes from Hotter.  I really love high heels, but these were more practical!

 

I can wear them for about 4 -5 hours before my feel start to complain. This day was about 7.00am to 9.00 pm, considerably longer!

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My  “Jewel “Shoes from Hotter.  Shoes that are even MORE practical!

 

Once the shoes and handbag was sorted out I put together a comfortable skirt that would be good to sit in on the coach and a jacket to meet the in between season time of year that is so great for jackets.

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This skirt looks so much better with high heels!  I have three Buckingham Palace carrier bags now!

 

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Looking bright eyed and bushy tailed at 7.10 am, waiting to get going.

 

Outfit Details

 

“Shimmy” Nude Almond Toe Shoes (worn until just after lunch)  Hotter

“Jewel” Navy Lizard Shoes (worn from Lunchtime until returning home!)   Hotter

Viyella Blue Checked Pleated Skirt  Oxfam on Line

Cream V Neck Top   Marks andSpencer

Blue Jacket   Eastex (inherited)

Nude Handbag      Next, bought last year

Patterned Silk Scarf   Oxfam on Line

1950’s Navy Blue Ruched Nylon Gloves   Diane Ashman

Blush Pink Brooch on Top

2 Rows , Lotus Pearls

Large Pearl Stud Earings

2 x Stretch Pearl Cuff Bracelets in Blush Pearl

Ecco Leaf Brooch in gold finish   Oxfam on Line

 

There is something very special about getting up very early and moving about quietly outside because neighbours are either asleep or just getting up! Do you remember, dear Reader, early starts to go on holiday when you were a child?  I certainly do and the excitement associated with it still comes flooding back to me.  So getting up at 5.00am felt very exciting!

 

We went off to London at 7.30am and arrived at Tower Bridge at 11.00am.

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Our driver parked so well in this tight coach parking space.  He reversed out too!

 

 

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Smiling in front of the most vivid yellow wall in the  underground coach park.  “Great!  It’s nearly time for lunch – breakfast was AGES ago!”

 

The next part of the day was a River Cruise on the Thames alighting at Tower Bridge.

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That is Tower Bridge in the background.

 

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Glenn took this photograph of Tower Bridge.  Can you think of a good caption for this couple in the foreground?  Mine is – “Where have the Ice creams gone?  We were licking them a minute ago!”

 

 

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The back of our cruiser.

 

 

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Our boat is the one in the middle of the River waiting to come and get us all.

 

 

Lunch was served as we went up and down the River taking in the sights on port and starboard.

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Looking forward to Lunch.  The table mat was non slip.  Our cruise was not too choppy!

 

 

It was delicious and we were fortunate that it did not rain.

We returned to the coach and were driven to the Palace. The tour through the Palace is one way, so we were shown where we would be collected by the coach at the end of the afternoon.

 

It would take 15 minutes walk from the back of the Palace, through the gardens and out to meet the coach.

 

The entrance we went to was on the other side of the Palace – the Ambassadors Entrance. We had to pass through airport style security – our bags were x rayed and I set off the alarm with my metal brooches (as I had two – one on my top and one on my jacket).  Once through, we set off through the State Rooms towards the Exhibition.

The State Rooms were magnificent. There was so much to see that I hope to visit again next summer to focus on the State Rooms more, also having read the guide book thoroughly beforehand.  For this time, dear Reader, I was all agog to take in the clothes and to see the designs of Norman Hartnell, Hardy Amies and Angela Kelly.  What I really wanted to see was the Wedding Dress and the Coronation Dress.  These two wonderful dresses had never been displayed together before.  Do look at the video in this link to see the dresses.

 

There were cases of the Queens hats and it was interesting to see the way the designs varied from different milliners and decades. I could remember many of the hats from Tours, The Silver jubilee, The Golden Jubilee and the Family Royal Weddings.  All the outfits from the Diamond Jubilee and HM The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebrations were there too.

 

The only shoes displayed in the Exhibition were the Wedding Shoes. They were cream satin peep toes strappy sandals with an ankle strap.  There was the most charming deep oval shoes box with an E on the top, with a crown over the E.  I would have loved to see more shoes and handbags.

The Exhibition covered the Official Robes, Evening dresses and clothes for Tours. There was so much to see and take in.  Each outfit was displayed on a model, backed by large pictures of the event.

 

The clothes are of course brought to life by HM The Queen. However another element was clear – clothes have a diplomatic role and send wonderful signals of cordiality, deference and power.  The unspoken message in so many of the designs shows the care and integrity that goes into the design, planning, fitting and wearing of the completed ensembles.

 

This is a skill I know is being passed to the Duchess of Cambridge. She is learning how to do this and I am sure HM The Queen is eager to show how to use fashion to powerful effect, complimenting countries as we have seen on the recent tour of Canada by The Cambridges.  Kate looked wonderful in her striking first outfit with a hat adorned with maple leaves and wearing the maple leaf diamond brooch.

As we passed through the remaining State Rooms, I took in the wonderful paintings of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and 5 of their children, portraits of Queen Mary and George V. I also marvelled at the chandeliers shining and twinkling in every room.

We stepped out onto the terrace and saw the large green lawn where the Garden Parties are held.

 

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The entrance behind me is where the Royal Family comes out into the Garden for the Summer Garden Parties.

 

 

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The back of Buckingham Palace.

 

 

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Looking back  at the Palace as we were making the 15 minute walk to meet our coach.

 

 I was very affected by the thought I had walked where The Queen walks.  It was so special.

 

The shop at the end of the tour had many different souvenirs.

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There was a lot to see in the shop!  Glenn took these photographs while I was buying my book.

 

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Souvenirs of all sizes!

 

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This Steward is helping a visitor make her purchases!

 

I bought the book “Dressing the Queen” by Angela Kelly and I will be posting about it to share my enjoyment of it with you, dear Reader.

Glenn bought me a corgi soft toy to take home!

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So cute!

 

I have called her Susan after the corgi that the Queen bred her line of corgis from.  Susan is a dear reminder of a unique and memorable Day Out.

I was impressed by the Stewards at Buckingham Palace. They were in uniform and therefore easy to recognise.  They wore Dark navy blue three piece suits with a cape in navy blue with a red collar.  I think the uniforms are based on Court Dress which is navy blue with red trimmings.  The jackets were fitted and single breasted and had red on the back of a revered collar with navy lapels.  The capes reminded me of those worn by nurses in the 1960’s.  They looked so smart and were all friendly, courteous and helpful.  I kept asking questions as I went round and they did their best to answer!

 

As always when travelling, we seemed to get home quickly and arrived back at home by 9.00pm we enjoyed the picnic tea I had left on the coach to return to. My feet had survived very well in the blue shoes for the afternoon and I was pleased with my outfit, which had been just right.

Do chat in the comments, especially if you have been to a Garden Party or have visited Buckingham Palace.  It is very interesting in many ways and will elicit different responses. 

For me, dear Reader, I felt humbled by the evidence of such obvious hard work from everyone involved, from the Royal Family to the army of Housekeepers and Stewards who had made the Palace such a fascinating place to visit.

 

 

A big thank you to Glenn for taking the photographs.

 

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