So a last week I was randomly invited to have ‘Tea at the Cutty Sark with a senior Royal’, through my choir. New Wine Church Choir gets invited to a lot of these events and I am still always surprised when it happens even though I’ve been in choir for like, 10 years.
I thought the ‘senior Royal’ would be one of the Queen’s far far distant cousins eight times removed or something, so I wasn’t tooo bothered about it. However, you don’t often get an opportunity to meet someone from the royal family and well, if they are serving tea for free, why pass up the opportunity? So I accepted the invitation and I didn’t really think about it until yesterday when I asked one of my friends if she was going. She said “Yea, why not? We’re having tea with Prince Phillip” Prince Phillip?! Hold on, is that who the ‘senior Royal’ is?? Ahhh well, that is a big deal – He’s the Queen’s husband! Like, the second in command in the land! (Is that technically true?…I think the Prime Minister might be…not sure though…if you do politics help me out please) well I guess I can’t be missing that then.
So today (after some serious dashing between work and home because I forgot my second form of ID – which wasn’t even checked! Grrr!), We had tea at the Cutty Sark (a massive ship, now turned museum, in Greenwich) and got to meet him. The tea was lovely – i’m a sucker for a smoked salmon sandwich and there were lots! Cloudy apple juice, cakes, macaroons..mmmm…they sure know how to do it – the only thing I didn’t have, was tea!
When he was due to arrive, we stood in our little groups (there were representatives of various groups in the community there – 9 of us from our choir representing the church) and he went around and talked to us (I was in prime position right at the front – being small has its uses, always gets you to the front!).
For a 91-year-old he is so agile – all those meet and greets must really keep him fit. What was really funny was that we were so talkative in our group before he came around and as soon a he was in front of us we didn’t know what to say! (It was a little awkward – shake hands? don’t shake hands? curtsey? don’t curtsey? – solution: No to both). He asked us the questions instead, so that was good (he has the art of small talk down) and then it was over. On to the next one.
As he went around I was really intrigued that this is what he did for his day job. Going around and greeting people, making small talk (you know how bad I am at that), cutting ribbons and being introduced everywhere – must be tiring. In the presence of royalty, you should also think you would be blown away, amazed and dazed by their presence but interestingly, when I first saw him, I didn’t think “OMG, woooooww it’s Prince Phillip” – it was more “he looks just like a nice grandpa in a good suit” . There wasn’t this massive grand aura or anything (I really don’t know what I expected…a shine of some sort? A booming voice? A massive crown?), and even when they said “Your Majesty” in the welcome speech, my resounding thought was “he just looks like another person”.
TV and other media make people seem so huge and magnified but at the end of it all they are all really just people. Being a royal garners fame because it’s part of the job (or life should I say) but he didn’t “work hard to get to where he’s got to” or “come from nothing to get here!” So I guess that’s why I wasn’t as overwhelmed as I thought I would be. Now, if I was meeting President Obama…
I would love to meet the Queen one day though. She does inspire you to work hard and be dedicated to what you do – seeing her stand for hours in the rain during her jubilee celebrations endeared me to her a bit because she didn’t just leave it to the people to stand in the rain, she stood with them.
For all the fairy tales and stories of being a Prince or Princess, nobody tells you that in real life, along with the perks of being waited on hand and foot, it’s a constrained commitment. You’re born into “a life chosen by God” as one news article put it, your job is already picked out for you and you have all this protocol and tradition thrust on you without choice. I know I wouldn’t like that. I’m glad to have met the Duke and I like the Queen, they’re obviously good at what they do and it’s a way of life for them, but strangely, I’m glad it’s not mine.
Good thing of the day: Tea at the Cutty Sark with Prince Phillip the Duke of Edingburgh! (The Queen’s husband). Hope I am as agile at 90!