Today saw the final event in the three-day celebration of The Queen’s official birthday when 10,000 guests joined The Queen, Prince Philip, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and other royals for a truly ‘Great British’ street party on the Mall in London.
Organised by The Queen’s eldest grandson, Peter Phillips. The Patron’s Lunch was a celebration of The Queen’s patronage of over 600 charities and organisations and attendees included members of these groups giving everyone who has been touched by Her Majesty The Queen an opportunity to publicly thank her.
Some tickets were also opened for public ballot to members of the general public and I was honoured to attend and have the opportunity to share the experience with Royal Central’s loyal readership.
On the Ground at The Patron’s Lunch
Though grey skies persisted for most of the day the atmosphere was electric as everyone joined together to celebrate The Queen. Friendships were formed, good food was shared and a feeling of British pride permeated the celebrations. The highlight was the parade which was designed to explore both the decades of The Queen’s life and the areas of charity she supports. Representatives from each of her more than 600 patronages marched down the Mall waving banners and dancing along to the sounds of military bands and gospel choirs. There were animals on tricycles, dance squads, military veterans and their families and even a Gruffalo! The crowd was jubilant and some claimed to have seen The Queen herself peeking out the window of Buckingham Palace to see what all the excitement was about.
After the first parade went by we all sat down to tuck into our picnic hampers. Packed with delicious goodies we ate, got to know our neighbours and did our best to try and dry out during the few moments when the rain ceased. For a full list of what I and other guests dined on make sure you read this great account from Royal Central Deputy Editor James Brookes.
When it was announced that the royals would be coming out to say hello people angled for the best spot and I was lucky enough to speak with Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie who asked us how the lunch had been and joked about the fact that the weather today was being ‘very British’. Also out on the Mall to say hello were the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex along with their daughter, Lady Louise, Princess Anne and her husband, Timothy Laurence, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
The royals made their way down the Mall stopping to chat, in some cases stopping to take selfies—you know how to please your people, Prince Harry!—and making sure everyone felt welcome on this special day.
The Duke of York, The Duchess of Cambridge and the Princess Royal
The Duke of Cambridge, The Earl of Wessex and Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice
Just as it was announced that The Queen was on her way the clouds parted and we were treated to beautiful sunshine. The Queen and Prince Philip made their way down the Mall towards Admiralty Arch in an open-top Land Rover but it was clear that Prince Philip thought it was taking a bit too long when he rapped sharply on the roof and signalled to the driver to pick up the pace—a move that had the crowd in stitches.
Arriving at the stage, The Queen and Prince Philip joined Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as well as the event’s organiser—Peter Phillips. Prince William gave a short speech praising his grandmother’s work and taking the opportunity to speak on behalf of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren to express their admiration and love for ‘granny’ and everything she has accomplished in her 90 years.
The Queen also took a few moments to speak and to thank everyone for joining her at The Patron’s Lunch, cheekily referencing the choruses of Happy Birthday that had already broken out by saying she appreciated it but wasn’t sure she would still enjoy hearing the song come December.
Following the speeches, the royal party made their way back up the Mall and took up seats in front of Buckingham Palace to watch a second showing of the parade which their reactions showed they thoroughly enjoyed.
A truly iconic event, The Patron’s Lunch achieved its goal of formally recognising ‘the un-relenting support and service our Monarch has given to the community over her 63 year reign. And it is this commitment to helping others that is cause for a National and Commonwealth wide celebration, with the very people she has helped over the decades being at the centre of this event.’
The event inspired communities across the UK and Commonwealth to follow suit by honouring and thanking Her Majesty for her commitment to her people by holding their own street parties and helping raise money for local community initiatives and the newly created charitable fund – The Patron’s Fund. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall attended one such street party in Brimpsfield, Gloucestershire.
The Patron’s Lunch followed Trooping the Colour on Saturday, 11 June and a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday, 10 June which was attended by an estimated 53 members of the royal family – the largest royal gathering of its kind in recent history.