“Can you be at Kensington Palace tomorrow?“….. it’s not your average Monday morning call!
“What’s the event?” I asked.
The reply came…
“It’s a charity dinner (The Winter Whites Ball) for the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge. Interested?
You can bet I was. “And, who is the client?“
The caller simply said.. “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.“
I packed my LV briefcase and caught the next train to London
quicker than you can say “yes Ma’am!“
Planning an event for the Royal family is, for me, a huge honor. You can’t underestimate the complexity or detail involved – it is extreme. The pressure is on. Security is tight at every stage. You need to show your passport to move from room to room! Every inch of the dinner table is measured to ensure alignment of glasses and cutlery. Royal protocol drummed into the entire team. The days are long, and you forget to eat. A weight-loss plan like no other. Detail is everything for me, so this was a heavenly challenge!
The Winter Whites Ball embodied a winter wonderland event design straight from the pages of Dr. Zhivago. In the absence of snow, we created our own. Royal florist Simon Lycett dressed rooms with oversized winter trees, stripped of bark. Tables adorned with white roses, green foliage, and silver pine cones. Tall silver candlesticks and candelabra held white church candles. A stunning lighting production sprinkled the walls ice blue and white snowflakes. The result, dramatic.
But most impressive, the Royal pulling power. With the likes of Jon Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift queuing up to perform, the charisma of the Royals clearly wowing our American cousins, it became obvious why THIS family is a great asset as a charitable patron, or indeed flying the British flag abroad. They attract attention. They open doors.
Prince Harry clearly had some ‘pull’ with the Americans too, as Meghan Markle fell for his princely royal charms. With a wedding on the horizon, I can only imagine the dossiers of details, meetings about briefings, and checks taking place. It will be intense. A wedding planners dream!
It’s clear for all to see – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are in love, and their infectious romance sparked speculation about another Royal wedding, almost from the moment they met. Very soon, the public’s wish is being granted as the glamorous couple say I do on May 19, 2018, at the altar of St George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle – the same place the groom was christened 33-years earlier.
In many ways, the pair are a couple like any other. This is their special day, but it is also a showcase for the entire country. Bringing the personal and the stately together is the key challenge for any event organizer dealing with royalty.
So far, we’ve had a few sneak peeks of what to expect. The couple is putting their unique stamp on the day in veering from tradition by not inviting heads of state; serving an organic lemon and elderflower wedding cake instead of the traditional fruitcake; and expressing their environmental concerns by choosing seasonal plants attractive to pollinating bees.
However, the final details of the day are still a closely guarded secret. Security is paramount at any high-profile event, and for Royal events, it is as tight as it comes, as I know from organizing the Winter Whites Ball for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
That said, it is fair to say surprise is not the attraction of a Royal wedding. Rather, it’s the formal and often extravagant traditions that make these occasions so special. Any royal event follows strict protocols, the details of which need to be drummed into the entire event team from the very start. This requires attention to detail on an extreme level because not only do the couple and their families expect this, so do the guests, the media, and the public. All eyes will be on this wedding and from the organizer’s point of view, nothing can be left to chance.
From the procession in and out of the church to the newlyweds’ kiss on the royal balcony – everything needs to be choreographed to allow for the perfect images without losing the spontaneity of the couple’s special day. It sounds like an almost impossible task and it will be – but only almost.
Working with the British Royal family is one of the biggest challenges and privileges any event planner will ever get – I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to see the wonderful mix of new and old, personal and stately, that Harry and Meghan’s big day will bring.
There is no other wedding occasion that tops a Royal big day. All eyes … on the bride!!
As millions watch at home, hours before our very own football final, make your Royal day special. Drink champagne, an English sparkling wine if you feel inclined, raspberry daiquiris, or a traditional afternoon tea. Union flag bunting and the Queen to host (corgis at her side). Strawberries and cream, Eton mess shot glasses, vintage pots of traditional tea, delicate bite-sized cucumber and smoked salmon sandwiches….all outdoors on a summer afternoon, with a barbershop trio or string quartet. A Royal afternoon tea rocks!