Over the course of each year, The Queen welcomes over 30,000 guests to spend a relaxed summer afternoon in the beautiful gardens of Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse. At each Garden Party, around 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 slices of cake are consumed! Garden Parties are an important way for The Queen to speak to a broad range of people from all walks of life, all of whom have made a positive impact in their community.

Who is invited to a Garden Party?

Every summer, The Queen hosts three Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace, and one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland. Historically, Garden Parties took the place of presentation parties attended by debutantes, and have evolved into a way of recognising and rewarding public service.  

Throughout the country, a long established network of sponsors is used to invite guests, who include Lord-Lieutenants, Societies and Associations, Government Departments, Local Government, the Services, the Church and other Faiths.  They nominate guests for invitation and we hope in this way to achieve a representative cross section of the community.  It is not possible to acquire invitations to The Queen's Garden Parties through direct application to Buckingham Palace. 

What happens at a Garden Party?

On the day of the Garden Party, the Palace gates are open from around 3pm. The Party officially begins when The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by other Members of the Royal Family, enter the garden at 4pm, when the National Anthem is played by one of the two military bands present.

While the bands continue to play a selection of music, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh circulate among the guests through 'lanes'. Each takes a different route and random presentations are made so that everyone has an equal chance of speaking to Her Majesty and other Members of the Royal Family. The Queen then arrives at the Royal Tea Tent, where she meets further guests. Guests are free to eat, drink and stroll around the beautiful Palace gardens.

Special Garden Parties

Each year, a Garden Party is also held for the Not Forgotten Association, a charity for war veterans, which is usually hosted by the Patron of the organisation, The Princess Royal. The Queen and The Duke of York attended the Garden Party in 2014.

 

The Queen also gives permission for additional Garden Parties to be held, for example to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme in 2006, and the Territorial Amy's 100th Anniversary in 2008. In 2006 to honour The Queen's 80th birthday the gardens were transformed into a scenes from children's books for the Children's Party at the Palace. In 2015 there were Garden Parties to celebrate the Centenary of the Women's Institute and Blind Veterans UK. 

What to Wear

For a Garden Party, gentlemen wear morning dress or lounge suits, while women wear day dress, usually with hats or fascinators. National dress and uniform are also often worn.



Royal Collection

The Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, 28 June 1897

This oil painting by Laurits Regner Tuxen shows Queen Victoria and Alexandra, Princess of Wales in the midst of the crowds.

 

 

View on the Royal Collection website