The Royal Family: Behind the Palace Walls

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"I know when visiting heads of state come to this country and they have one of these magnificent banquets at Buckingham Palace, you know, if you said to them, 'Well, we'll scrap all that and we'll go down to the local bistro or we'll have you in Downing Street for a dinner,' I mean, it wouldn't be the same to them," the prime minister said. "They love the fact that they're in Buckingham Palace with the queen of the United Kingdom and you know, the royal family, in what is, at one level … almost a piece of theater. But it's great. People love it, and why not?"

As President Kafour began his speech, chef Flanagan and his staff were hurrying to have dinner ready to go on time.

"Lovely, let's rock and roll," Flanagan said.

"The president's still speaking, and we've finished, so we're good for time," he said. "We were lucky they were late, and it always pans out that way, and you make it by the skin of your teeth."

The after-dinner entertainment was by the Scots Guard's pipers … the kind of pomp and circumstance for which Buckingham Palace is noted.

Every British monarch since Queen Victoria in the 1800s has lived in the palace, which is rich in furnishings and traditions that are passed down from one generation to the next. Members of Great Britain's royal family learn by doing … and it takes a lifetime.

"The one thing about this particular job, as far as I can recall, is that there is absolutely and precisely no training scheme whatsoever," said Prince Edward, the earl of Wessex and the queen's youngest son. "So, it's actually quite extraordinary that any of us have survived at all."

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