The Platinum Jubilee
I know the Platinum Jubilee was a while ago now, but I’ve not really come down from Cloud Nine. I was, of course, flattered and delighted to be one of the Dames asked to sail down the Mall in an open topped Jag as part of the Pageant. It was one terrific day. We stayed the night before in the Caledonian Club just off Hyde Park Corner so we could walk there and back. We had to be at the St James tube station at 9.30 to register, and then we walked to 1 Great George Street which is a palatial Edwardian building belonging to the Society of Civil Engineers. They had to get all the VIPs who would later travel in the top of open-top buses, plus the seven dames, there before the roads closed.
So basically we had an all-day party in the ballroom while we waited for the afternoon pageant. John, my husband said he’d never entered a room before when almost everyone there had given him pleasure over the last sixty years. Wayne Sleep. Cliff Richard, Roland Rat, Chris Eubank and dozens more. We dames (I expect because we were a good deal older than the others) had a ‘retiring room’ to ourselves where we could relax, put our feet up, fix the lippy, and gossip. I hadn’t seen Floella Benjamin since we sat on the Royal Mail Stamp Committee together, many years ago. Then there was the magical Darcey Bussell, Twiggy, Arlene Philipps, and Zandra Rhodes. And then, of course the legendary Joan Collins. We all had husbands or, or daughters with us.
Eventually we set off for the Horse Guards Parade and found our Jags. Joan got Darcey to swop because Darcey’s white one went better with her outfit. All the jags belonged to Jaguar club owners and they were the drivers. My driver was the wife of the owner of our jag (which was beautifully restored outside but they hadn’t got to the interior and engine yet) and she was distinctly nervous, poor woman. It turned out she had good reason, since we needed a jump start to get going and then the battery died half way down the mall, much to the merriment of the nation.
We sat there like nanas while the procession streamed past us. It was very funny, and the crowd enjoyed it. But I felt sorry for the poor driver. The problem was that the dodgy battery would not take charge a the snail’s pace we had to go at. I thought we should get out and push, but our seats were so low (I think they’d not been restored yet and the springs were gone so we were practically sitting on the chassis) I’d never have made it. Happily four burly stewards finally appeared and pushed us all the way to Buckingham Palace, where we joined the rest of the dames in the Royal Box to watch the pageant, and then trooped on stage for the appearance of the Queen and her heirs on the balcony. What a day!