Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee, celebrating 60 years on the throne, is Tuesday, June 5th. We are visiting Bill’s home isle during a very patriotic time. On Sunday the 3rd, Queen Elizabeth kicked off festivities in a pageant down the Thames: a parade of 1,000 boats. It was pouring with rain, which the commentators explained “couldn’t dampen this day – typical British weather!” The Queen looked royal and happy when we saw her lead off the parade.
Just after the Queen boarded the Royal Barge beginning her historical journey down the Thames, another group – Bill’s mum and sister, friend Jane, and I – embarked on a journey toward afternoon cream tea at Hanbury Manor, a stately hotel in the countryside near Ware, Hertfordshire, England. Not only is June 5th the Queen’s Jubilee, it is also Bill’s mum’s 80th birthday. Jane was treating Bill’s mum to afternoon cream tea for her birthday, and Ann was treating me as an early birthday present. In America I would say, “Wonderful!” On the Island, I say, “Lovely!”
Tea commenced in the Oak Hall…
… and it really was lovely.
Dark wooden walls ensconced small conversation areas of big royal chairs circling tables of white linen set with fine English china. Each of us had a pot of tea. (Mine was decaf as the night before my heart nearly thumped out of my body after the rations of caffeine during the day… multiple cups of coffee and tea, dotted with a couple Diet Cokes at the pub the night before.)
I wondered about the tea strainer on the table. Alas, this was real tea – with tea leaves floating inside each of our pots! Soon the centerpieces were delivered: tiered trays of afternoon delights. On the bottom plate were finger sandwiches of smoked salmon, beef, egg salad, and cucumber. The middle plate – to my heart’s delight – scones, clotted cream, and strawberry jam. And finally on top, was dessert. Tiny pastries of chocolate, fruit, custard, and walnut bread. Two hours later, we drove home in the rain.
And as for the Queen? The river parade had ended by the time we returned home. I think the Queen’s – and her court’s – enthusiasm waned a bit during the water parade.
On the far left, Princess Kate, holding up that new-princess smile. Next to her, Prince Philip consulting Prince Charles over… the weather? Between the two of them, Camilla. To the far right, big brother Prince William consoling little brother Prince Harry over… the weather? And, finally, Queen Elizabeth between the sets of Princes. Personally, I think she would have enjoyed an afternoon cream tea. (Double-click the picture to enlarge the story.)
Despite the rain, both were historical events.
By the way, great pictures from the royal parade on the Thames are on the Daily Mail’s site.