Royal Garden Parties
Who can be invited to a Royal Garden Party
Each year the Lord-Lieutenant is asked to nominate individuals who may wish to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. All persons nominated must be British citizens, resident in the United Kingdom and living within the Lieutenancy area of Buckinghamshire. Those nominated are to be drawn from as wide a range as possible, and must not have previously attended one of Her Majesty's Garden Parties.
If you wish to nominate a member of your local community, please write to the Lieutenancy Office with the name of the person you wish to nominate, their correct and full postal address and state why you feel the individual should be considered. Nominations are received all year round, but the closing date for nominations in each particular year is 31st October.
The Lord-Lieutenant has a panel which will consider the request and, if they feel the nomination is suitable, will write to the nominated individual asking if they would like to attend, the name of their guest and on which of the 3 dates they would like to receive an invitation.
Those nominated on the Lord-Lieutenant list will receive an invitation which will be sent from the Lord Chamberlain's Office approximately 4 to 6 weeks prior to the date chosen.
More information about Garden Parties is available on the British Monarchy website
How many people attend and is there a dress code?
Approximately 8,000 people are invited to each party, and in order to ensure a cross-section of people attend, quotas are reserved for public organisations such as the Civil Service, the Armed Forces, as well as for charities and societies. During HM The Queen's reign, more than 1.1 million people have attended Garden Parties.
There is a dress code. Gentlemen are encouraged to wear morning dress or lounge suits while women wear afternoon dress, usually with hats or fascinators. National dress and uniform is also allowed.
What happens on the day of the party
Guests are allowed into the grounds at 3pm after a security search. The tea party takes place in 'the garden', which is in fact 40 acres of meticulously sculpted parkland that was first laid out by James I in 1609.
The Royal Family enters the garden at 4pm, accompanied by a military brass band playing the National Anthem. They then circulate through specially formed 'lanes' to make sure as many people as possible get to speak to a member of the Royal Family.
How long has the tradition been going on?
The first Royal Garden Parties were held in the 1860s when Queen Victoria began hosting 'breakfasts', despite the fact that they were held in the afternoon. Fuelled by imports of tea from its colonies, British high society had taken afternoon tea breaks to their heart and the monarchy wrapped this into royal tradition by hosting two garden parties a year.
In the 1950s a third garden party was added at Buckingham Palace to replace the traditional presentation parties for debutantes which had fallen out of fashion.
Are there any other occasions when parties are hosted?
Yes, every year there is also a garden party for the Not Forgotten Association, a charity for war veterans. Occasionally the Royal Family will host one-off garden parties to commemorate certain events or institutions.
Garden parties have been held to celebrate the Territorial Army's 100th anniversary, the centenary of the British Red Cross's Royal Charter, and the Lambeth Conference, where the world's Anglican bishops meet in Canterbury once every 10 years. In 1997, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh also hosted a garden party for couples who were sharing their golden wedding anniversary with them. A separate party was also held on 2002 on the 6 February to mark HM The Queen's Golden Jubilee.
How to apply
Please complete the Nomination Form (opens in a new window) stating why you feel the individual should be considered to attend a Royal Garden Party. Nomination forms have to be received by the end of October for consideration to attend a Garden Party in the following year.
Please contact the Lieutenancy Office if you require a copy of the form in an alternative format.
You can contact the Lord-Lieutenant in the following ways:
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By telephone: 01296 382241
In Buckinghamshire the Lord-Lieutenant makes every effort to ensure that a wide cross section of the community is reflected in his garden party nominations. The selection process begins very early and is completed by the end of January each year. It is unusual for anyone to attend a garden party more than once.