The Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev John Mann, and his wife Helen were guests at a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on May 21.
They were among 8,000 guests mingling on the 14 acre lawns of the Palace on a bright afternoon.
On the advice of the landlady in their guesthouse in leafy West Dulwich, the Dean and Helen travelled in their finery to the Palace by train.
“No one batted an eyelid as Helen and I – looking as if we were going to a wedding – sat amidst the commuters, tourists and general travellers of city life,” Dean Mann writes in his blog on the Belfast Cathedral website.
After queuing with their ID and promising to turn their phones off and not to take pictures, the Dean and Helen were led though what he describes as ‘gorgeous’ rooms to the lawns of the Buckingham Palace gardens.
“Naturally, we walked around the lake, met others from Northern Ireland and from all over, and commented on the variety and exuberance of the dresses – most obvious of all, the scarlet cassocks of the Queen’s chaplains and the purple of the bishops,” writes the Dean.
“But hundreds of women in summer dresses and hats, the military in their uniforms and amazing Indian and African ladies in stunning colours made the afternoon of sunshine just perfect.
“The Queen and Prince Philip arrived to the National Anthem, played by one of the two bands laid on for the afternoon, and then we were off to tea – and yes there were cucumber sandwiches, amongst others, and a kind of lemon and passion fruit tart that was out of this world, rounded off with strawberry ice cream.”
As the party ended, the Dean and Helen along with the other departing guests passed lines of tourists poised at the rails ready to watch the famous Changing of the Guard.
Dean Mann’s blog on his day in London can be read in full on the Belfast Cathedral website www.belfastcathedral.org.