Well, friends, we went to see the queen on Christmas morning at Sandringham! There was so much excitement built up, we weren’t sure if it would be as big of a deal as we had hoped or imagined. So Christmas morning, after we opened our stockings, we packed up a picnic brunch, and hopped into the car for the drive. It was a very grey winter morning, but it was still beautiful, and we made the hour or so of driving pass quickly as we sang every Christmas carol we knew. Once we arrived in Sandringham, we just parked and followed the crowds of people to the gate of St. Mary Magdelene Church. Amelia was practically sprinting.
It was all very orderly, and the police officers working the event were very cheerful and friendly. Amelia announced (very loudly) to the one below, “When I grow up, I am going to try super-hard to be very good, because I never want to go to jail.” She offered some other crowd-pleasing remarks as we all stood and waited by the drive to see the car come by with the queen inside.
Amelia waited eagerly with her little posy.
It was an awful lot of buildup to just see a car drive by! When it finally passed, I just caught a glimpse of the driver and Princess Eugenie. If you look closely at the edge of the photo, I believe you can see the brim of Queen Elizabeth’s turquoise hat.
Once the royal family had entered the church, everyone dispersed to go get a hot drink or take a walk on the beautiful grounds of the Sandringham Estate. Jeff went and picked up our picnic basket, so we could warm up with some hot cocoa and a bite to eat.
Our two food traditions for Christmas are panettone (even though we are gluten-free through the rest of the year!) and hot chocolate made from cacao sent to us from my parents in the Philippines. I make ours with coconut milk, cinnamon and ginger. Also in our picnic on Christmas morning: garam masala-spiced pecans and apple, leek and sage sausages.
Having a breakfast picnic out in the cold on Christmas morning was actually a lot of fun! We may have to make it a tradition.
Oh, and this little girl was so excited to meet the queen and give her flowers. She wore pearls that morning because she had learned that Queen Elizabeth also likes to wear a string of pearls.
We barely had time to finish our breakfast before it was time to go back, and for the children to line up to give flowers to Her Majesty. Look at all of these excited children! There were about 70 there, waiting their turns. Amelia was almost at the end.
At this point, the crowds were so thick that I could hardly see a thing!
I didn’t see the queen or any children talking to her. But I could see children coming back after their big moment with Her Majesty. Look at these adorable sisters!
When I figured it was about Amelia’s turn, I just raised my camera over my head, and did my best to aim and shoot in the general direction of the royal family. (So did everyone else, by the way!)
There she is, in blue!
And it turns out that I did manage to catch this moment. I didn’t know it until I got home.
OK people, things are about to get real here. When I met Amelia down the drive after her moment with the queen, I was so excited to hear what she had said to her. And then after she told me, I wanted to die. So, there’s a little context for what Amelia decided to say, something that was not at all on our radars this week. There was a moment at the Olympics opening ceremonies, when the camera panned to the queen, and she was just looking at her fingernails for several long seconds, without ever looking up. We said, “Oh, look Amelia– there’s the queen!” And then I exclaimed, “Oh, no! She’s just picking her fingernails!” I was embarrassed for her sake, and then of course there was some fallout later on in the media for that moment, as well. That was several months ago, and we have talked about the queen so many times, looked at pictures, etc. I didn’t know that moment had made an impression of any kind on Amelia.
So on Christmas morning, when Amelia had her moment with the Queen of England, she said, “I’ve been wanting to meet you for ages. But my mama and papa said you’re just picking your nails.” To which her majesty replied, “Oh, no!” And that was it. I was of course completely surprised that this was what my charming child had chosen to say at that special moment, and horrified. The fact that we had not witnessed any part of this interaction made it harder, since we had no idea how anyone had responded. Later, when we saw the photo of Amelia talking with her, I was chagrined to realize just how many important people were listening– and I must add here that my daughter always speaks loudly and clearly, so that everyone within ten feet can enjoy what she has to say!
It was a rather somber drive home. Jeff spoke soberly to Amelia about choosing things to say to people that make them feel good about themselves, rather than bad. There was a line, however, that made me choke back laughter and realize how surreal the experience was. Jeff said,
I love the look on Queen Elizabeth’s face, and I can see that Princess Beatrice is really laughing. That really helped! This picture is all over the web, in news articles from around the world. I cannot wait to get it framed as a very special memory (and eventually a very laughable story!)
Last night, a few people told me that they saw Amelia on the Today Show in the US!! I found the video, and it was really hilarious because in it, you can see Amelia walking away from the encounter with a very uncomfortable look on her face, and then the queen is visibly laughing! Here’s the clip:
Oh, what a relief to see that my child’s impertinence was met with such good humor!
We never expected that going to see the queen and her family on Christmas morning would be such a HUGE experience for our family! We know we will remember this for the rest of our lives and we will often tell the story about when Amelia met the Queen of England and what she dared to say. And we will appreciate this wonderful lady’s grace and good humor. Merry Christmas, Your Majesty!
|Photo Credit: Christ Jackson/ Getty Images|
Have you ever had the chance to speak to someone really important? What did you say?