Palace visit was a ‘wonderful experience’
WALKING through the ceremonial arch at Buckingham Palace and meeting the Princess Royal are two highlights of receiving her MBE that Newbuildings woman Joanna Boyd will never forget.
Joanna travelled London to pick up her ‘New Year Gong’ with husband Les, son Callum and her mum, Joanna Walker, on Wednesday, making time to enjoy some of the sights and sounds of the city with her family before putting on her glad rags on Thursday and making the journey to the country’s most prestigious residence where she chatted to the Princess Royal for several minutes.
“She was lovely. Very soft spoken and a lot younger looking than she comes across on the TV. She was very interested in everybody who went up and she spoke to me for about four minutes and when I was getting my award she chatted to me a lot about my work and what I had done within the council and about the Peace Process, because obviously I do community relations work within the council for women and she asked me for how long it would take for the Peace Process to work,” said Joanna.
Already feeling 10-feet tall because she received an MBE, Joanna was told she was the best-dressed woman there on the day by a retainer drafted in to help with the formalities: “It took a while to find something that I felt would be comfortable, first of all, and also appropriate for that kind of setting. The Courtier I met when I had to walk up to wait in line for my MBE, he said ‘I have to say you get the prize for the best outfit of the day’. I wore a dress with a bolero jacket. It was a pink and silver dress and a silver fascinator and silver sandals and accessories,” she said of her outfit.
Taken with Buckingham Palace itself, Joanna described her surroundings as “very grand”.
“We went through the front entrance and we went back into the quadrangle and we walked across that and then you go in. Whne you go in it is just plush red carpets everywhere. It is the same entrance the Royal family would go in after a Royal Wedding or something, under the arch, and when you go inside it is very plush and there are big staircases, so it is no wonder the Queen is very fit when she climbs those staircases all the time. First of all I was in the Picture Room, that is where they hold all the recipients. When you go in with your guests you are separated from your guests, os they went one way to go to the Ballroom and we went another way to get our briefing,” said Joanna.
Reflecting on the occasion, Joanna said her mother, affectionately known as ‘Granny Walker’, was very much taken with all the architecture, the ceilings and the work that went into maintaining the ambience of the building.
“They went into the Ballroom where there was a band playing. So the band played right through the whole ceremony. They had Sir Sebastian Coe first and they had a lot of the Olympian folk there too. There were some of the equestrians there. Firstly you went into the Picture Room where they pinned a clip onto your jacket so the Princess Royal could pin your medal on, and then they gave a briefing of how you address her and talk to her and they give you a briefing on how you walk in, walking in slowly we had to stop at this gentleman and when your name is called out they call out ‘Joanna, Mrs Boyd’, and then they go on to say ‘Services to Local Government’. When they say ‘Boyd’ you start walking forward and you curtsey and then you go forward and she talks to you and when she shakes your hand that is your cue that she is finished and you step back, but you don’t turn your back on the Royal,” she said.
Joanna than had to take four steps backwards, curtsey again and then go out, whereupon her medal was taken off, put in a presentation box and given back along with a copy of the Investiture Programme. Recipients were then free to go and watch the remainder of the presentation ceremony with their families.
“It was an excellent experience for everyone. There are not many six-year-olds who can say they have been inside Buckingham Palace. Callum enjoyed it, but I think it will be in the years to come, when he gets the DVD and looks back on the DVD that he will appreciate it. You are not allowed any cameras so once you go in you have to go into a room and leave all your belongings, cameras, telephones and things like that. You are not allowed anything inside the Palace at all, so Callum found it good, but he was only six, so it was long for him; it was a two-and-half-hour ceremony. He did very well in fairness and the official photographs outside afterwards also took a long time.”
It was the first time that both Granny Walker and Callum visited London, so the trip featured a bus tour of the sights and Callum got to go to Hamleys - so it was smiles all round!
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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