A Trip to London

Well, I’ve accomplished everything I set out to accomplish in life. It’s smooth sailing from here. I’ve seen the Queen.

I’d like to think my trip was a manifestation of the universe closing a circle of destiny that started August 31, 1997. That was the day Diana, Princess of Wales, died—also the day of my tenth birthday. The global event that it was was the real start of my fascination with the Royal Family.

Over the years, that fascination has grown to focus on Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II—and I’ve really become a caricature of myself. Anyway, the week of Diana’s death wasn’t the Queen’s best, but she emerged to me as an incredibly captivating person whose long career and life has been worth studying. And I have.

Needless to say, we spent most of our time in London being star struck. Which means I took really awful pictures. But I’ll show you some. I’ve uploaded a great number of them to gallery above and attempted to include captions. Below, I’ll walk you generally through the royal highlights of what we saw and did while we were there.

Let’s begin.

First. We flew there. And I didn’t sleep at all. But I did watch The Second Best Marigold Hotel and read a lot from my book, The Deal: Churchill, Truman and Stalin Remake the World.

But more interestingly, after arrival no delay was made in making a visit to Kensington Palace—current residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge slash creaky old museum.

A photo posted by sirblake (@sirblake) on

But it had a bunch of the Queen’s Dresses!

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When we went outside, I resisted trying to climb over the wall to see I could find where Kate hangs out, but I saw the clocktower under which Prince George surely has his own playground.

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Then I went home and fell asleep. I had to rest up to pay homage to the Queen. But first, I went to church. The Queen’s church. And the church of every monarch before her. Also the one you saw Kate and Wills get married in.

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I look exhausted in that picture. Oh, by going to Westminster Abbey I, of course, saw the Houses of Parliament across the street.

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Then we made our way to the Queen’s house. You know, to say “hi”.

 

In residence. A photo posted by sirblake (@sirblake) on

We stayed there for about 4 hours. Waiting for something to happen.

And it did.

Prince Charles practically ran over my foot.

Oh, but before that we went to the Royal Mews where the Queen keeps all her carriages and cars.

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But the next day was the real party. We had tickets to Trooping the Colour, informally known as the Queen’s Birthday Parade. And a parade it was. This is where I would first lay my actual eyes upon the actual Queen,

Unfortunately, I got placed behind the BBC camera.

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But it moved when I hit my head on it standing up for God Save the Queen.

Here she comes, here she comes!

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But, just before that, Kate, Camilla and Harry rolled through. They looked a bit cold. It was a tad rainy.

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Princes Charles and William and the Princess Royal (Princess Anne) were on horseback, just behind the Queen.

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After the Trooping. We ran like well dressed mad people through St. James Park to make our way to the gates of the Palace for the fly past.

The view was great…

PEOPLE EVERYWHERE!

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But being charming and blessed, we found our way to the front.

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From there we could see Prince Michael (the Queen’s cousin) and family on the left. Sir Timothy Lawrence and wife Princess Anne. The Duchess of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales, Prince George, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cambridge’s hat, Prince Harry’s new bald spot, THE QUEEN, the Viscount Severn (Prince Edward’s son), the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Beatrice, Lady Louise (Prince Edward’s daughter), Princess Eugenie, Lady Sarah Chatto’s family, the Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra, and the Duke of Gloucester and their families on the right.

Watch this video of Prince George in action during his first balcony appearance:

As if that wasn’t enough, we saw the Musical Matilda. Which was really entertaining. It has music that can get stuck in your head for days. If you’d like a taste, here’s a preview.

The next day was a slower day. After all, so much Royal action can wear one out. So we explored the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. We walked around Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. I had fish and chips (and some how never managed to take a picture).

Monday, the Queen called again. We had tickets to the Order of the Garter Service outside St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

The day was filled with more pomp and circumstance and close Royal encounters. For instance I saw Prince Andrew. Prince Edward. Princes William and Charles. Prince William was very chatty. Not to me, though.

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I also saw my dear Camilla. (Standing by the Countess of Wessex in green—arguably the most beautiful royal.) Some people aren’t on Team Camilla. I’ve grown to like her more and more over the years. Here she’s giving the eye to a guardsman. Homewrecker.

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This is where the Queen and I had our closest shared moment. You can tell she was much amused by our passing glance.

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She also zoomed by on her way back to the castle.

Hello again.

A video posted by sirblake (@sirblake) on

The next day, more Royalty. But of a more historical flavor. A visit to the original royal palace, the Tower of London was in order. This was largely so I could pay homage to the crown jewels. Which I did. I rode the conveyor belt sidewalk that runs past the jewels twice. I needed to see them from both sides.

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We also made a very rushed visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral—which is stunning! The royal significance here (there is lots of significance beyond this) is that it is where Charles and Diana were married. But, sadly the visit was very rushed.

A photo posted by sirblake (@sirblake) on

Most of the time here was spent climbing to the top of the dome. Which had beautiful views of London. Of course, as should have been expected after climbing an unbelievable numbers of stairs, my camera battery would die at the top. But I got one picture.

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But mostly I just sweat and panted up and down stairs and through terrifying small spaces.

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Later that night, we saw Les Miserables. Which is what one should do when in London.

The final royal highlight of our trip came the next day. A trip back to Windsor castle for proper tours. The State Apartments were one of my very favorite parts of the trip. They were so beautiful. Though, as I wandered through them, I kept one eye out the window across the Quadrangle of the castle toward where the Queen’s private apartments are. I even saw a maid that I’m convinced was making the Queen’s bed. But more importantly, I noticed the royal vehicles coming into the courtyard. When the tour finished, we hung out where we had a view of the scene. Lucky day for us, the Queen hopped into one of the cars (one a train of about 8 cars for other members of the family) and headed off to the last day of Royal Ascot. She even waved.

That’s all the royal highlights of the trip. To detail the whole trip would be wildly boring for you, I’m sure. But if you are interested, please check out the picture gallery at the top of this post.

Needless to say, I had an incredible time in London. It did not disappoint. I ate way too much, enjoyed kind hospitality and didn’t get too lost on the Tube. I daresay very few people have had as good of time as I did. The truth is I saw the Queen more times in this one trip to London than I have ever seen Mickey Mouse in the several visits to Disneyland. I’ll consider the trip a success.

God Save the Queen.

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1 Comment

  • LOVE LOVE LI E your work, Blake! Thanks for the incredible Le trip to London. I always love pictures of Adobe walls…crazy, I know….Keep up the great work.

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