Thursday, July 24, 2008

Trip to London—no pictures yet

Today was the "London Day", the day we have all been waiting for, the day that has caused endless speculation among the spouses about what to wear to Buckingham Palace. Sadly, I have no pictures to share right now because all our cameras were confiscated at the Palace and we won't get them back until tomorrow.

It was a warm sunny day--too hot to be wearing a cassock, but that was required dress. We left about 7:30 AM for our first stop, the march in downtown in support of the Millenium Development Goals. Our bus was almost late because we had a minor breakdown on the way into London. Part of the bus' bumper came off and was caught in the wheel, but after about a half hour on the side of the road, we were on our way again.

The march was a bit disappointing. We had hundreds of bishops, but few spectators, even though we went through the heart of London. There were a few who clapped for us, but most looked at us with blank stares--who are these guys in purple dresses? Or with anger for holding up traffic.

We arrived at Lambeth Palace and walked the grounds for a while before hearing a stirring speech from the Prime Minister about world poverty. Then, in an ironic contrast, we were served a very elegant lunch in a huge tent set up on the grounds. I would have been happy with a sandwich and a donation to the MDG funds, but apparently there are many from third world countries who look forward to this lavish event.

It was then back in the bus to Buckingham Palace. Our buses drove right up to the main reception entrance, and we lined up to have our credential checked. We then walked through the ornate reception room out onto the lawn and gardens. The first hour was spent enjoying refreshments and admiring the gardens (remember there were 2000 people there!). Just before 4 PM, the Beefeaters cleared a path through the crowd, and right on schedule the Queen and Prince Philip appeared, she in a light spring dress (and of course hat and gloves) and he in Morning coat and top hat. Assistants pulled various people at random out of line for her or the Prince to meet. We did not get picked, but at one point were only about 8 feet away from her and had a fine view. Prince Philip stopped in front of us to ask where we were from. After about an hour of this, the Queen went in a tented area and had tea with a few select VIPS. At 5:30 it was back down the lawn and into the palace. We all left charmed but exhausted after many hours on our feet sweating through our cassocks.

So it was a day to tell our grandchildren about, but everyone is glad it over. Most everyone went to sleep on the bus on the the
2 hour trip home.

I will do my best to get some pictures up tomorrow, but I am also having some trouble with my computer (I am writing this on Laura's), so there may be a little delay.

Quote of the day--A member of the Church Commissions on spying a huge party had made out of white and black feathers on another young woman guest--"I thought killing swans was illegal in Oxfordshire."

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