Inside the Queen’s Lavish Garden Parties That Meghan Markle Will Attend Now That She’s a Member of The Royal Family

The royal family knows how to throw a party, especially in the summer when the weather is finally warm enough to enjoy one of the queen’s stunning gardens. That said, garden parties are not just another royal family celebration — they’re a time for the queen and other members of royalty (including, Meghan Markle) to mingle with a select group of guests.

Wondering what it would be like to hang out with the queen in her own backyard? From the dress code (page 4) to the activities (page 7) to the one loophole that could land you an invite to next year’s summer celebrations (page 8), we take an inside look at the queen’s exclusive garden parties, ahead.

1. The queen hosts 2 garden parties per year

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II greets guests, after observing a minute's silence at the start of a Special Garden Party at Buckingham Palace

She holds them in London and Scotland. | Dominic Lipinski/AFP/Getty Images

Every year, the queen hosts an afternoon garden party at both Buckingham Palace in London and Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland. The summer festivity is a time for the queen to enjoy the company of thousands of people who have had a positive impact on their communities while sipping tea and snacking on bite-sized sandwiches.

Next: We can’t believe they fit this many people in the gardens.

2. Over 30,000 people are invited

Queen Elizabeth II (wearing pink) stands with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on the top of the steps in front of members of the public

It’s a huge event. | Alastair Grant-WPA Pool/Getty Images

The queen’s annual garden parties are some of the most exclusive events in London and Scotland. That said, over 30,000 people are invited to celebrate (though not everyone attends)!

The queen’s party planners use a network of sponsors — consisting of lord lieutenants, government departments, societies and associations, the services, local government, and the church and other faiths — to nominate guests of all walks of life for invitation. However, there are loopholes that allow guests without a nomination to attend (page 8).

Next: A grand entrance

3. Upon arrival, guests go on a mini tour of Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Guests pass through the palace to get to the garden area. | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

In order to get to the queen’s garden and lawn area, guests have to walk through Buckingham Palace. Once inside, they go passed hundreds of paintings, grand staircases, and other museum-like furnishings. After the walk-through, guests pour out onto the grand steps and catch a first look at the garden.

Next: There is a strict dress code.

4. What to wear to a garden party

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace

There is a strict dress code. | Anthony Devlin-WPA Pool/Getty Images

It’s no secret that presentation is important to the queen — especially when it comes to wardrobe. Garden parties have a strict dress code of morning dress or lounge suits for men and day dresses with a hat or fascinators for women. National dress and uniforms are also permitted.

Next: We can’t believe the amount of tea sandwiches served.

5. The food

A woman carries sandwiches and cakes during a Garden Party Queen Elizabeth is hosting at Buckingham Palace

Expect tea, cakes, and sandwiches. | Anthony Devlin-WPA Pool/Getty Images

One of the most impressive facets of the queen’s garden parties? The food! According to the royal family’s website, an estimate of 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 slices of cake, and 20,000 sandwiches are consumed at the lavish summer parties.

Next: The entertainment

6. The music

Rolf Harris sings a song with Chelsea pensioner David Poultney at a Buckingham Palace garden party

Military bands play. | Johnny Green/PA Wire/Getty Images

Music is a very important part of the garden parties. The queen invites two military bands to play and has them strategically placed in front of each food and drink tent. Guests enjoy a selection of music — along with the national anthem to kick things off — while they mingle, sip tea, and munch on tiny sandwiches.

Next: What a garden party is really like

7. What to expect at a garden party

Queen Elizabeth II Hosts A Royal Garden Party

The queen is fashionably late. | John Stillwell-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Guests fortunate enough to attend a garden party are welcomed into the palace at around 3 p.m — but the party doesn’t start until the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh (along with other members of the family) make an entrance an hour later. Then, one of the military bands plays the national anthem.

Once “God Save the Queen” has ended, the band plays a selection of music while the queen and duke mingle with guests. After the queen and her family have had a chance to speak with guests, the queen heads over to the “royal tea tent” to meet with more guests. Once the presentation has ended, guests are free to enjoy the festivities, eat, drink, and take a stroll through the garden.

Next: How to land a spot on the guest list

8. If you have a New Zealand or Australia passport, you can request an invite

Guests walk across the Buckingham Palace lawn during a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace

There are some loopholes to score an invite. | Danny E. Martindale-WPA Pool/Getty Images

The rules may require a nomination to get invited, but there are loopholes. And, according to Business Insider, one New Zealand man took full advantage of this. “I discovered this strange little loophole that I think was created in Queen Victoria’s time,” Greg Agnew shared with the publication. “Anyone with a New Zealand passport can simply request an invitation,” he added. “I did that and they said yes. It was that simple.”

In addition to New Zealand, those with Australian passports can also request an invite.

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