Upon entering the gates, we were led through a tunnel to a courtyard. Here there was an outdoor display of "great" historical British design achievements from the past, such as a black cab, a London red bus, a red phone box and post box and the actual nose section of a Concorde. We then entered the palace and were led upstairs to a series of huge rooms/halls where more historical British design landmarks were on exhibit from the Prince Philip Designers Prize and the Royal Library of Archives. Guests arrived and mingled over cocktails. It was a Who's Who of the design industry in the U.K.
SN: It was strictly a cocktail reception, no speeches were given or announcements made. Luckily for us, Patrick Haverson-the Prince of Wales' communications secretary and an old friend of ours-was there, and he's fairly chummy with the Queen. Shortly after he arrived the Queen entered the room right near the three of us, so we had a chance to chat with her for about 10 minutes. There were lots of people there, and I'd guess that only about one in 20 actually got to meet her-it was only because of Patrick that we were able to not only meet her but get in the picture with her.
JS: Buckingham Palace is stunning, as you'd expect. Walls, galleries, hallways, stairways covered with original masterpieces and lined with sculptures. Bit too much history and great pieces of art to take in, really. We walked through various rooms-the State Dining Room, several drawing rooms, the Picture Gallery and the Music Room. All these great halls, with millions worth of art, furniture and sculpture, but it was pleasing to see that on every other hand-carved piece of furniture there was the inevitable "bowl of crisps" for the guests. Just goes to show, no matter how big the cocktail event, it's compulsory to have crisps on the side, even if the bowls are hand-cut crystal.
We met the Queen as she entered the Picture Gallery. She's small and cuddly, like any other grandma, I suppose, just with lots more . . . of everything! But my lasting impression was she was very nice, very open for a chit-chat and she seemed genuinely interested in Attik's business, especially as we are connected to the Prince's Trust, something that she referred to with passion during our conversation.
SN: The latest bit of gossip going on here has the Prince of Wales talking about young people all aspiring to be pop stars when they should really stay where they are. For us to turn around and say, "Well, he was really encouraging to us when we were young people"-I'm sure she was pleased to hear that.
JS: The Queen had a male servant dressed in full attire follow her around. It seemed his job was to stand next to her with a crystal glass of ice water on a gold tray-there was something very funny about this. We then chatted with the Queen's Ladies-in-Waiting, who basically follow her around everywhere, doing their stuff. One lady had worked for the Queen for 20 years and the other for 45 years. They were really cool, and when Simon asked one of them, "I bet you girls have some fun on the side, right?," she replied with a smile and a wink, "You bet!" Not bad for a 65-year-old! Though we can't say we traipsed off to some out-of-the-way, richly appointed bedroom for some "fun on the side," in terms of meeting someone worth meeting, the Queen was definitely joint Number 1.