Monday, June 11, 2012

MIXING WITH ROYALTY -A Queen of Romance and...the Queen of England!


My story starts a couple of days before Christmas 2011 – hey, I’m a writer, and I don’t know how else to tell this story!
So, it’s a couple of days before Christmas, and half a dozen Christmas cards have arrived in the morning post, along with an innocuous-looking envelope addressed to me.  Assuming the latter was a bill, I naturally opened the Christmas cards first – I love everything about Christmas, and consider sending and receiving cards from family and friends, as being part of the joy of the season.  It finally came time to open the innocuous looking envelope, which I duly did, quickly read the contents of the letter inside, before throwing it down onto the table beside me in disgust, with muttered comments like ‘it’s disgusting the scams people get up to nowadays’, and ‘at Christmas time too!’.  My husband came into the room about fifteen minutes later, and I showed him the letter, expecting him to be outraged too, but instead he picked up the letter, said he would be back in five minutes or so, and duly disappeared.  As he had said, he did reappear five minutes later, gently placed the letter down on the table beside me, and said softly ‘it isn’t a scam, Carole, you really are being asked to accept an invitation to attend the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in May 2012,in recognition of your outstanding service to literature’.  I actually began writing in 1978, and have just completed my 180th novel for Harlequin Mills and Boon, but even so…!
Now in my own defence, in regard to thinking it was all a scam of some kind, I would just like to point out that the second paragraph of the letter asked me for details of my passport, and that of the guest who would be accompanying me.
Secondly, things like this do not happen to people like me.  I was born in a small village in Bedfordshire, more years ago than I care to think about, the youngest of three children, and the only time I have ever seen the Queen, or any of the royal family, has been when they were being driven past in a car, or on the television.
Thirdly, I had never heard of a Harlequin Mills and Boon author having received such an honour, and if there are some of them out there then they probably haven’t talked about it for the same reason I haven’t – they were in shock!
I believe, along with the rush and bustle that is Christmas, that I truly did go into shock for a few days, and then I learnt that a dear friend was very seriously ill – Penny Jordan – and the whole thing just faded into the background.  Unfortunately we lost Penny on New Year’s Eve, and it was just so sad, that everything else paled into insignificance, and I really didn’t give the garden party invitation another thought until much later that month, when I finally remembered I had to send my acceptance.
Being of bit of a worry wart, I was still reluctant to share the news of the Royal invitation with anyone – what if it turned out to be a mistake, and they had the wrong Carole Mortimer? Or the official invitation, which they told me would be sent out in mid April, never arrived?  How foolish I would look, for ever having believed they could really have meant me in the first place!  So I told very few people, just close family – my Mum and Dad were so proud! – and three dear friends.
But to my surprise a buff-coloured envelope duly arrived mid-April, bearing a Buckingham Palace postmark, inviting myself, and my husband, to the Queen’s Garden Party, at Buckingham Palace, on May 29th,  2012.  One of those three dear friends asked me if I had very carefully opened the envelope so that I might frame it, along with the official invitation – but I’m sorry to say, that in my haste to see if it really was THE invitation, I had ripped the envelope open (perhaps a bit of sticky tape…?).
So, I now had six weeks in which to find something to wear – being superstitious, and that worry-wart, I hadn’t so much as looked at what I would wear for such an occasion.  And I had to wear a hat.  The instructions for the day, which had arrived in the envelope with the official invitation – we were not allowed to take cameras into the Palace, or have mobile phones switched on, nor would the official photographers be allowed inside the grounds – definitely said I had to wear a hat.  I never wear hats!  Not even to the weddings of two of my sons.  The gold silk suit was easy – I love the silk clothes from a certain shop, and they very kindly made the suit I wanted in the appropriate time.  The hat?  I’m not telling where I found the hat, but I’m sure you will agree, it goes perfectly with the suit?  And my husband – who retired when our youngest son was born, and hates wearing suits after having to wear them to work for thirty years – actually went out and bought a new suit and shirt for the occasion.  I was most impressed!
So, we’re all set, suits bought, hat also bought, now all we have to do is go to London and attend the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on May 29th.  ATTEND THE QUEEN’S GARDEN PARTY AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE!!!!  I felt sick with nerves every time I thought about it – which was more and more often, the closer the date loomed.
My husband – he’s such a romantic on the quiet! – had arranged for a suite for us at The Savoy, overlooking the river, for two nights, with a lovely bottle of wine chilling in a bucket of ice when we were shown into our suite – which I have to admit, we very much enjoyed drinking.  That was followed by the two of us going downstairs, and enjoying one of The Savoy’s Afternoon Teas.  I’ve always loved Afternoon Tea.  So much so that I’ve been known to decide on whether a hotel is any good or not by the quality of their Afternoon Tea!  The Savoy’s Afternoon Tea is, I am happy to say, the best in London as far as I’m concerned.  Absolutely delicious. 
The following morning – the morning of THE garden party – it all started to seem so very real, when before it had all seemed like a bit of a dream. 
Again, my husband – how I do love that man! – had arranged a surprise for me, in that he had arranged for The Savoy’s chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce (number plate S8 VOY) to drive us to Buckingham Palace, and collect us again at the end of the afternoon.
It was wonderful being driven through London in that lovely Rolls Royce, arriving at the Palace, and ACTUALLY BEING ALLOWED TO GO IN THROUGH THOSE BEAUTIFUL ORNATE GATES.
The gardens at the back of the Palace are extremely lovely; rolling lawns and beautiful beds full of shrubs and flowers.  The sort of garden where you could imagine children playing hide and seek in the bushes, with tree-houses or hammocks amongst the trees.  I hope that they did, and still do!
At four o’clock a dozen Beefeaters appeared in the garden in full Regalia, announcing the arrival of the Queen and the royal family.  The Queen looked lovely in lilac, and Prince Phillips was his usual debonair self in his morning suit, and it seemed incredible to think that they were 86 and 90 years old.  Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were also there.  And the Duchess of Cambridge looked lovely in pink – Prince William was, unfortunately, on duty, and so couldn’t accompany her.  Prince Harry was his usual friendly and handsome self.  The Princess Royal looked very regal.  Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were also present, and extremely charming.  Plus a number of other minor royals – I was so bedazzled by this time I honestly don’t know who else was there!
Afternoon tea was served all afternoon, a lovely selection of sandwiches and cakes, and hot tea or chilled coffee – and I can honestly say I have never eaten such delicious cucumber sandwiches.  They had put mint leaves in with the cucumber, and somehow turned a bland sandwich into a delight.  The newspapers the follow day stated that each guest at the garden party had eaten an average of thirteen sandwiches – thirteen! – and as I only ate three, and my husband six, I’m curious as to who ate the other seventeen…
It was an incredible, magical afternoon, and one I will never ever forget, along with the honour of the reason I had received the invitation - ‘in recognition of my outstanding service to literature’.

Carole Mortimer



 
COMING SOON - Castonbury Park, the Regency Upstairs Downstairs series
   
                  
       

                   





                                                                                      

29 comments:

Michelle Styles said...

Absolutely thrilling!
Thank you for sharing Carole!!!
And a well deserved honour as well!

Carol Townend said...

Wonderful, Carole, thank you so much for posting this!

PrincessFiona01 said...

Congratulations Carole. You've been one of my long time favourite authors and I have a box full of your books that I can't bear to part with. Thanks so much for all the pleasure you've given me and so many others over the years. You certainly deserve to be recognised for it.

Elizabeth Rolls said...

Carole, it sounds wonderful. Your husband rose to the occasion splendidly. Thanks for sharing this with us. Your suit looks gorgeous. Stunning. I'm so glad that you got that recognition for the countless hours of pleasure you've given us over the years.

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Yes, fantastic Carole. I love the outfit - beautiful and just right for a royal party. Glad you had such a good time.

Cheryl St.John said...

Thanks for sharing, Carole! You look awesome in your dress.

Annie Burrows said...

What an exciting day! Your suit looked great, so did the hat. And I'm betting it was Prince Harry who scoffed your sandwiches...

Jeannie Lin said...

I loved reading about your experience Carole and you looked absolutely fabulous! I can tell from the description you were just floating.

Barbara Monajem said...

So awesome, Carole! Sigh...

Connie said...

Oh, how exciting! I've always been a huge Royalist and would love to have been peeking out of your pocket to watch this wonderful event. How lucky you are to have had such an experience. Thank you so much for sharing it and the beautiful pictures. Sigh...

Anonymous said...

message from Carole Mortimer

Thank you all so much for your wonderful comments - it truly was a spectacular day, and one I will treasure all my life.
And I'm betting Prince Harry ate the other sandwiches too!

Sarah Morgan said...

We're so proud of you Carole!
xx

Jane Porter said...

I can't get enough details on your special day and love the photos and all the tidbits. Makes me feel like I've fallen into a fairytale just hearing about it. So thrilled for you and delighted that I get to vicariously be part of it!

xoxox

Jane

Quilt Lady said...

Sounds like a very exciting day!`

Ann Lethbridge said...

How thrilling. You looked absolutely gorgeous and every bit the part of an illustrious author. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I felt as if I was right there with you.

Anonymous said...

From Carole Mortimer

Just wanted to say thank you all very much before I log off for the night - you were all wonderful to take the time to comment.
xxxx

Peggy Wright said...

And you deserved the acknowledgement..your thoughtful husband just made your day more wonderful for you. You looked elegant and beautiful, your fans are so happy for you!

Jen B. said...

Wow! And I thought my dad being invited to work on a Presidential commity years ago was exciting. But to be recognized for your entire work history by the Queen. Thanks for sharing! jepebATverizonDOTnet

Erin said...

What an incredible and deserving honor, Carole. I can only imagine how thrilling it all was. I am equally in awe of your husband, he really went out of his way to make the day even more memorable!

Nicki Salcedo said...

How exciting! I'm glad you were recognized in such a lovely way.

TashNz said...

How exciting Carole, what a proud moment and how neat to be recognised in such a way. What an awesome blog to read. I also just wanted to say Hi! I am a long time fan. Yours was the second book I ever read of my Nanas more than 20 years ago (Penny Jordan my first) and I've been a long time fan ever since. I think the hero was a sea captain of some sort? Anyway I was hooked right until their kiss on the last page. Congrats again xx

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post:-)
What an amazing day and your outfit is just perfect.
I have loved following all the celebrations and it is all the more special knowing you were a part of it.
So deserved!
Carol Marinelli xxx

Anonymous said...

What a well deserved honour for someone who has brought pleasure to millions of readers.
I'm so glad you enjoyed your day, Carole, and thrilled that you have shared it with us
Love
Suexx

Katherine said...

Oh how thrilling for you! Indeed a Queen of Romance :)

Gives me goose bumps to think that the Queen adores your books just as much as I do. When her Mum was alive, I can easily see the two of them enjoying afternoon tea and chatting about love and royalty from a Mills & Boon perspective. :)

Bravo to your husband! I adore a man with a romantic heart.

Bravo, Carole! Well done :)

Anonymous said...

from Carole Mortimer

Just to say a thankyou to all of you - you're all wonderful to take the time to comment.
Thank you, thank you
xxxxx

Janet Pepsin said...

Wow, Carole, that sounds like such a wonderful, amazing experience! In fact, it sounds like something out of a romance novel..."Carole tried not to slump in her chair, feeling quite the fish out of water. Suddenly, the most handsome man she had ever seen appeared behind her, and made her the most absurd offer. 'Cucumber sandwich?'"

Seriously...such a well-deserved honor. You have been one of my favorite romance authors, and I always reach for your new release when it becomes available.

Anonymous said...

from Carole Mortimer

I have been totally overwhelmed by everyone's warm response and good wishes. Thank you all so much.

love Carole xx

penney said...

Congratulations Carole you look beautiful in that dress. Wonderful blog thanks for sharing!
Penney

Katherine Bone said...

You look fabulous, Carole!! Thank you for sharing this. Congratulations on getting to attend the tea and for abstaining from eating too many sandwiches. You were a proper Lady. :D