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Amber Lavelle has been living in London for three years, and she works as a marketing manager for a children’s charity. Last week she was invited to The Queen's Garden Party at Buckingham Palace - but how did she get on?

Having managed to grab an invite to The Queen's Garden Party I was elated; a girl from Newcastle meeting The Queen? Surely there are some Novocastrian laws against that? However, despite the odds (or perhaps lax background checks), I was on my way.

In the lead up to the event I am not ashamed to say I was excited; my colleagues were subjected to endless chat about outfit choices, hair styles and cucumber sandwiches. I think they were just as relieved as me when the big day arrived.

Walking through the gates of Buckingham Palace with my invite in my hands and security never far away, I was struck by the sheer grandness of the event; top hats, fascinators, clergy cloaks, army uniforms and lovely dresses galore. We were not in Kansas any more, and while it was clear we had all walks of life at the event, it was even more obvious that people had gone to a lot of trouble to impress. Maybe we were all secretly hoping that Lizzie would invite us back to summer in the palace, or perhaps that Harry would turn up?

The day itself was a sophisticated affair. All guests were ushered through the palace, where guards and servants alike were watching you with friendly yet cautious eyes. As we entered the gardens we prayed the rain would steer clear, and it did - so we were left to our own devices exploring the gardens, or more importantly consuming the free tea, cakes and sandwiches that were laid out in a decadent spread.

This was my chance to mingle - and mingle I did. I managed to meet the head of the London Freemasons (who, disappointingly, would not teach me any sort of secret handshake). I met diplomats from numerous countries, some lovely old dears that had met The Queen 16 times (think groupies for the Monarchy) and a delightful foursome from Liverpool who had confessed that they were already drunk from their train trip earlier that day. In short, there were all sorts here and all were happy to chat to a lonesome Aussie who was out of her element.

After around an hour of swanning came the moment we'd all been waiting for - Lizzie herself was coming out to greet the masses. We had all been briefed/ threatened earlier that photos were not allowed, this only served to make me more determined to sneak one of course. As I lined up behind what seemed like thousands of eager royalists I realised my attempt to even glimpse Her Majesty was futile, until in a stroke of luck a gentleman who turned out to be the head of her guards asked me to turn around to make another path - promptly putting me in the front row and consequently where Lizzie would stop and have a conversation.

Within moments I was standing right next to The Queen who held an entire conversation about irrigation systems (random, I know) in front of me. She was attentive and interested, and not at all flocked by guards as I would have expected - her staff were friendly and when they discovered I was Australian were joking about us becoming a republic.

Once Her Majesty had done her social rounds she retired to the Royal Marquee with Phillip and Beatrice, where no doubt the sandwiches are a little bit better and the tea brewed to perfection, but I didn’t care. I was a happy girl. I had curtseyed to The Queen, held my own with the elite and even snuck in some selfies despite the watchful eye of Her Majesty's security.

Left to my own devices, I wandered the palace grounds, smelling the roses and checking out the royal tennis court (not as impressive as you would think).

The day ended with the National Anthem as a sign to leave the palace. It was an experience I will never forget and made me realise more than ever that sometimes it doesn’t matter where you are from -  good people are just that, good people. I will also remember the advice my Freemasons friend gave me: "Enjoy your life young lady, you only get one of them."

Too true, good sir. Too true.


Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at The Queen's Garden Party?
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