The Queen’s Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace are a social staple of the royal calendar. Every summer, Her Majesty, accompanied by various members of her family, hosts these relaxed tea events on the green lawn behind the palace.
Garden parties were instituted during the grand days of Queen Victoria, when the stately monarch began hosting afternoon gatherings in the 1860s. More recently, in the 1950s, the annual parties were used as a substitute for the debutante presentations that fell out of favor around World War II.
They took the place of presentation parties attended by debutantes, but have evolved into a way of rewarding and recognising public service. They are attended by people from all walks of life.
The Buckingham Palace garden gates open at 3pm, and the royals arrive at 4pm and stay until the end of the party at 6pm. They circulate among the guests meeting as many people as possible as they make their way to the tea tents, although with 8,000 guests per party, I imagine it feels more like a walkabout than anything else. Even if you only get to see Kate from a crowd three-deep, the refreshments come in spades. Since we are all about stats here at Kate’s Clothes:
At a typical garden party, around 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 slices of cake are consumed. Some 400 waiting staff are involved in the serving.
The Palace invites various companies to nominate guests, and once the list is compiled, invitations are sent out by mail. If you want to know a little bit about the restrictions and guidelines that a company is given to nominate, you can see details here.
Ladies dress up for garden parties, and most wear hats or fascinators, although there is no strict specification, as at Royal Ascot, for example. Kate has both recycled pieces, and debuted brand new ones, at the three parties she has attended over the years. Regrettably, we will not be seeing her this year due to the recent arrival of Princess Charlotte. You can browse her past ensembles, however, currently featured on the homepage!