Not invited to tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace

Suitcases filled to the brim, expertly packed and crammed full of knick-knacks, trinkets, memorabilia and 75% off designer ware, shopping “till we dropped” had been successfully knocked off of our agenda.  The Kid and I were therefore free to devote the remainder of our London stay to fully immersing ourselves in British culture and customs.  At the top of our list was a scheduled visit to the stomping grounds of her Majesty herself, where we planned to traipse around her palatial residence at Buckingham Palace in the hope of perhaps being fortunate enough to be invited to afternoon tea and crumpets.  After all, Canada does have close ties with Britain, being a Commonwealth nation and all, so surely the Queen would have no problem playing hostess to two awe-struck Brit obsessed Canadians.

The Kid was anxious to compare the grandeur of the Queen’s London estate to her beloved French heroine, Marie-Antoinette’s regal headquarters in Versailles, and ascertain which royal’s palatial abode outshone and outranked the other.  Having become madly obsessed with the splendour and opulence of Le Petit Trianon, my niece was constantly plotting and planning how to set up camp and re-locate to this fabulous French address.

Strolling along spacious tree-lined Birdcage Walk, blue and red Union Jack flags flapping ceremoniously in the wind, the crowds grew larger and denser with each step, as we headed towards Buckingham Gate.  The sheer magnificence of the Queen’s London Palace was made apparent to us the closer we tread, the 108 metre long structure regally situated upon 40 acres of royal grounds.  Boasting an impressive 775 rooms, 78 bathrooms, 92 offices and 52 bedrooms (not including the 188 staff bedrooms), her Majesty’s residence also houses a swimming pool, an art gallery and a post office!  And that’s just on the inside! The immense grounds include a lake, a tennis court and a private helicopter landing area, should any member of the royal family desire to be whisked by chopper to yet another “oh so mundane” social engagement.  The palace is open to visitors only during the months of August and part of September, when the Queen is away on her annual holiday.

With Prince William married off to Kate Middleton, that left eligible bachelor Prince Harry on the market, offering a glimmer of hope to my 16 year old starry-eyed niece, who envisioned herself one day betrothed to the dashing royal, thus securing her long for coveted royal address.  Continually plotting, planning and day-dreaming of far away adventures in even further away lands, the Kid was incessant that one day her prince will come, and magically transport her to her fantasy world of castles, ladies in waiting and horse-drawn carriages.

Staring wistfully at the balcony where newly married Kate and William shared a romantic kiss, the Kid was rooted to her spot, refusing to move from her perch as she peered through the ornate wrought iron gates that enveloped Buckingham Palace.

Short of having to forcibly pry my niece away from the gate, as frankly, she was beginning to become a bit of an eye-sore to the hundreds of other gawking tourists, a slightly annoying teenager who kept calling out Prince Harry’s name over and over again ad nauseam - I instead meandered away and spent a peaceful afternoon strolling along the perimeter of the palace.

Needless to say, I strongly suspect that Buckingham Palace stole the heart of the starry-eyed impressionable Kid that London day.

Come traipse around the outside of Buckingham Palace with the Kid and I, as we battle the crowds for a birds-eye view of the inhabitants inside, in the hopes of perhaps scoring an invite for afternoon tea or catching the eye of a certain eligible prince…

Next week – Where in London do my pink-sneakered footprints end up next? Stay tuned!!

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