On the 26th April 2012, I was extremely honoured to be invited to attend a business meeting with His Royal Highness The Duke of York at Buckingham Palace. Myself and four other local Gloucestershire businesses were invited by Gloucestershire's LEP to meet and discuss the work of local organisations that support and promote business development and entrepreneurial activity in the area.
The experience is now a memory that will live with me forever. It was such a surreal moment when our group walked through the north centre gates via a check point and over the famous fortcourt into the East wing/ Prince Albert Wing - if you have your back to mall and looking straight ahead it is the far right hand side. It became even more amazing when we went inside the Palace.
As we went through the door we were greeted by footmen, handed in our mobiles and then were shown to a yellow drawing room by the entrance where we waited to be taken to meet HRH Duke of York.
We were then taken by The Dukes PA, through to a wide staircase which was covered in red deep carpet. As we climbed the beautiful stairs, which wound around an elegant and rather large black and gold Victorian, lift I noticed hanging on the walls antique paintings depicting battle scenes, seascapes and more. I also noted a fabulous black lacquer Chinese corner cabinet and black lacquer Chinese chair, which were all hints to the room our meeting took place in.
The PA the lead us into the chinese dining room on the first floor, where we were to have the meeting. The room was amazing, beautiful wall hangings of chinese scenes and fabulously ornate fireplace. We were severed tea and coffee by a footman, everything was silver and the china cups and saucers had a little gold rims with EIIR printed on them. It was all so lovely. In the middle of the room was a large mahogany dining table with 11 chairs and 10 place cards, The Duke of course did not need a place card. I spotted excitedly and nervously that I would be sitting next to him!
We had about 10 minutes to look around the room, relax and enjoy our teas and coffees before HRH Prince Andrew arrived.
When we did he arrive, he did so in such a flash that I become so flustered and tong-tied I am not sure I greeted him the proper manor! So many things to remember, shake his hand, address him by Your Royal Highness, bob head/curtsey that I think I did everything at once but not at all in a clear manor! But once introductions had been made it was down to business and we took our places at the dining table. With mine right next to the Prince, I was terribly nervous and I felt sure everyone could hear my heart beating nineteen-to-the-dozen!
The Prince began the meeting and we were in there for around an hour and a half.
During the meeting I spoke up and told the Prince about Vanilla Pod, after I spoke I felt much more relaxed and was able to chip in when I felt I could offer something to the meeting. I even present the prince with box of Vanilla Pod bite size cupcakes, which as left the meeting he personally took them with him quoting “I’ll look after these myself”. I was beaming from ear to ear!
The Duke gave me some advice and planted business growth seeds in my head. So watch this space!
The prince is strong character and knew exactly how to behave around strangers. The meeting focused on the educating youngsters with basic business skills right from primary school age and how to attract more business and growth into Gloucestershire. The GFirst team also presented the duke with a gift of a Tewkesbury mustard ball and pot of mustard.
The meeting ended when the duke closed his leather bound folder and stood up, with that we all stood up, bid goodbye and thanked The Duke.
He then left and we followed his PA back down to the reception of the east wing, collected our belongings and left. We when went to The Goring Hotel for drinks and to discuss the meeting. The Goring hotel was beautiful and next time I am in London it is certainly a place I would like to visit for afternoon tea. Excellent service, beautiful décor and delicious canapés.
All in all I had an absolutely marvous day and feel completely honoured that I was invited to Buckingham Palace.