By Royal Command?


so what's going to the Palace like??? Absolutely fantastic...
The slightly longer version...

Travelling down with my gang the day before, drinking Champagne and eating select of cheese on the train started the couple of days as it was going to carry on, new and novel experiences...

The planned trip to the zoo was curtailed by the weather so we wandered to the Imperial War Museum instead and pottered. Decent Italian and then back to the hotel for another bottle of Champers and an early night.

Not much sleep, I was far too excited for that! A stroll along the embankment at 5:30 started clearing the head, followed by coffee and a rather unhealthy fry up in the hotel.

Then it was getting the morning suit on, with a little help with the ruchet... I'm not double jointed or have eyes in the back of my head!!!
Hailing a cab for Buckingham Palace was the 1st magical parts of the day... Rolling up to the gates and seeing the Royal Standard flying was the 2nd. That meant Her Majesty was in the house... And ready to receive guests...

Wandering pass the 1st security check, we saw plenty of tourists taking shots of us... We were inside the gates and so had to be famous ;-)
When in, all electronic and cameras were safely deposited (how many cloak rooms have a cavalry man outside with a drawn sabre??) and I was separated off for my briefing and apple juice in the Picture Room... In the half I was in, the other half was for those being Knighted, there were 4 Rembrandt's, 5 or 6 Canaletto's a host of other old masters...

As the room filled I began to recognise people... Jensen Button, Simon King, Patrick Stewart getting ready for his dubbing as a knight...The briefing was light and fresh, they do this 20 times a year but still managed to make this special for everyone there.

Then they start batching you off, for the walk to the main room, an operation so slick that you feel your nerves slowly ease as you're passed off from each link in the chain in a way that reminds you that countless of your heroes have walked this way before.

Then you're in the final line, you can see her, The Queen, on her Dias, giving the medals to the few people in front of you and 2 thoughts ran through my head... Were my trousers done up tight enough? Running a marathon a fortnight before lost me an inch or so... and what was I going to say to Her Majesty?

The good news was that my trousers stayed up... and all the lines I'd rehearsed came in useful... I can't remember exactly what was said, bit she smiled and told me to carry on, and pinned my medal on me before shaking my hand (the cue for me to leave).

Moving off for the casing and then feeding into the back to watch the rest of the ceremony, the military awards... the DSOs, DFCs and the George Medal, and I can safely say I watched with supreme pride.

After the Queen had walked off, followed by her Yeomen and Gurkha guards, we went into the courtyard for the formal photos.

By then I was slightly gibbering and needed a pint, so a swift google and to a pub called The Colonies (decent cider on tap). Then off to Fortnum and Masons, for what can only be described as the best tea I have ever had!

It was a magical day, and for once I can safely say that the Head of State of any country has heard of congenital heart defects. She probably says the same thing to everyone, but being asked to keep up the good work by The Queen does give you a buzz. I'm not sure but it may even constitute a Royal Command...

The photos are here on Facebook

As a taster though...


Paul Willgoss MBE


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