Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Commonwealth Observance...

...was ace. Westminster Abbey was full of flowers, there were terrifying gymnastic displays in the aisle, steel bands, a gospel choir, sitar music, and an exquisite wordless aria from Patricia Rozario. I am still not very good with live music, I was trying not to cry. The other four people giving their testimonies were lovely: Ade, wheelchair basketball champ, Paralympic medallalist, TV presenter, Alice, HIV activist and writer, Dr. Munanwar, Commonwealth civil servant who helped with the South Asian earthquake, Findlay, marathon-running cancer sufferer, now clear and running round the world in 24 days in September. There were flag-bearers in national costume from all over the world ( some of whom had very skimpy costumes on and froze outside when we had the meet and greet with Prince Charles, Duchess Camilla, the PM of Malta ( this year's chair of the Council of Commonwealth Societies). There were representatives of all faiths there and the service was really good: thoughful, lively, actually extremely enjoyable and accessible whilst still retaining the pomp stuff that we do well in this country.

There were no representatives from the British Government at all, Blair was invited but pulled out, his replacement, Baroness Amos was a no-show as well. Other people came from all over the world. The service will be broadcast on the BBC World Service on Sunday across all time zones.

Afterwards we went to a drinks reception at Marlborough House and devoured canapes and met Prince Charles again who was very charming and asked me much more sensible questions than most people do when asking about July 7th. His hands were those of a farmer, reddened and roughened, as if he has been riding or chopping willow at Highgrove, which is what I bet he would prefer to do with his time rather than attend drinks parties and services. His nails were bitten and rough; perhaps that is why he is fond of holding his hands behind his back or putting them into his pockets. He was a genuinely nice, bright man. Camilla was wearing an amazing hat and looked much more fine-boned and pretty than she does in her photos, with very good legs. I shook hands with her but didn't talk; she was working the other side of the room.

The drinks reception finished and we testimonial-givers decided to leave but were then persuaded on to a pub by some of the Commonwealth staff who had worked flat out on the day and wanted to kick back. We decamped to the Red Lion, and got quite pissed, having survived on twiglets and canapes all evening. But in a good way. It was a great afternoon and I shall remember it for a long time.

6 Comments:

Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

Nice to know that Charles seems as nice as I've always suspected he was; interesting note about his hands. I shall have to peep next time he's on the box...

Cheers for the link, BTW; laying into Two-Lunches, Three Desserts and a Cheese-Board has been on the cards for a while. How fortuitous that your father's unfortunate experience should come just at the right time. It must be divine intervention...

DK

March 14, 2006 8:41 am  
Blogger fjl said...

It would be great to see some pictures.

March 14, 2006 11:10 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

FJL , We weren't allowed to take pics, but a royal photographer was there and i ahev got the link for the website where the pics will be put up later today.

DK top post. had better add a healthwarning about swearing so my mum doesn't get too shocked!

March 14, 2006 11:19 am  
Blogger Holly Finch said...

so glad it went well...is charlie really as short as everyone says he is?!
sounds like an amazing day...well done.....oh & what happened to your 'no drinking' week?!! ;-)
xx

March 14, 2006 1:43 pm  
Blogger Pete said...

Slight correction Rachel
My brother attended this event and sat 2 seats away from Gordon Brown so I think you were mistaken on no govt member being present.
Over to you
Peter

March 12, 2009 8:42 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Pete - this is a 2006 entry?


Perhaps your brother attended in 2009?

March 12, 2009 9:32 am  

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