Sunshine Coast RCMP Const. Josh Talbot was a guest at Queen Elizabeth’s garden party at Buckingham Palace last month, and the Mountie in red serge caused quite a stir.
Talbot is a dual citizen of Canada and the U.K., and knowing that U.K. citizens could be invited to attend the annual garden parties, he wrote a letter to the Queen two years ago asking how to become a guest.
He was steered to the Canadian High Commission, which picks the guests who reside in Canada.
“Two years later I got an invite,” Talbot said, noting the commission gets hundreds of requests each year to attend the garden parties and those requests are put into a draw.
“This year they drew my name.”
Full of excitement, he travelled to England last month to take part in the June 10 garden party.
There are three garden parties held at Buckingham Palace each year and approximately 8,000 selected people from all walks of life, the Queen and various members of the Royal Family attend each party.
Talbot was allowed to bring one guest with him and he chose his great aunt, who lives in England.
“When she was a young girl she saw the Queen’s coronation and she loves the Royal Family. Out of my whole family I knew my great aunt would enjoy it the most,” Talbot said.
He wore his red serge uniform for the event, which drew a lot of attention.
“I wasn’t out of the car for 10 seconds and someone asked to take a picture with me,” he recalled. “It just continued like that all the way to the palace. People were continually asking me if they could take my photo.”
The gracious Mountie never refused.
There was special parking arranged for the Queen’s guests, but the short distance to the palace took Talbot a long time to navigate due to the constant picture taking.
Once inside the palace Talbot came through the grand hall and up the curving marble staircase, which leads to the royal garden, a special green space set aside for garden parties and never opened to the general public.
In the garden there was one tent set up for guests to be served from, one served the royals and another the diplomats. Talbot surveyed the area and awaited the Queen’s arrival at 4 p.m.
Attendees were formed into three rows with guests of distinction in the middle and other guests on the side lines. Then the Queen and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, walked down one side, speaking to the guests in the middle, and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Andrew, Princess Anne and Princess Eugenie walked down the other side, also talking with the distinguished guests.
The Queen and Duchess of Cambridge walked down the row Talbot flanked and after speaking to an accomplished teacher in the middle aisle, Queen Elizabeth turned and locked eyes with Talbot.
“She looked straight at me and looked me up and down then came straight to me,” Talbot said, noting his nervousness at the royal attention.
“She said to me ‘well, if it isn’t a Mountie,’ and I bowed and said ‘hello Your Majesty.’”
The Queen asked Talbot if he had brought a guest and he was able to introduce his great aunt to the monarch.
She then asked if he was posted in London and he explained he was from a small town outside Vancouver.
“Then she said ‘did you come all this way just for the party,’ and I said ‘yes.’ She asked me how long I was going to be in England and said she hoped I really enjoyed the party and she carried on.”
It’s very unusual for the Queen to take the time to talk to someone who’s not from the inside row and Talbot was in awe.
“I don’t even know if words can explain what I was feeling. It was overwhelming,” he said. “All over the courtyard people were coming up and congratulating me and telling me they couldn’t believe she spoke to me.”
Later on Talbot was standing in front of the royal tea tent watching the Queen and he felt a hand on his back.
“I turned around to see Prince Andrew. I can’t remember the first words he spoke because I was in shock, but I believe it was something like ‘a Mountie in London,’ and then he asked ‘how are you enjoying the party?’ I said ‘it’s great Your Royal Highness.’”
The royals left the garden party at about 5:45 and Talbot stayed on the grounds to mingle for a little while longer.
Once he left the party he and his great aunt met up with more family members who had been touring the area and posed for pictures in front of the palace.
Within seconds a line formed of people who also wanted a picture with Talbot. The Mountie obliged and then started to inch back to his vehicle, stopping to pose for dozens of photos along the way.
“I couldn’t believe how many people wanted photos. They must have taken hundreds,” Talbot said.
The Mountie caused quite a stir in England and while he may have been the highlight for some, Talbot will always remember the trip for his brief conversation with the Queen.
Find out more about royal garden parties at www.royal.gov.uk/Home.aspx. Search “garden parties” in the search engine or look under “royal events and ceremonies.”
© Coast Reporter