The Queen’s ex-butler reveals how to throw a royal garden party

Former royal butler Grant shares some tips for the perfect summer party (Picture: PA)

When it comes to proper Royal service, Grant Harrold (@the_royal_butler) is your man.

As a former royal butler and etiquette consultant for Thornbury Castle, he learns the secrets of a traditional tea party, from inventive sandwiches to the queen’s flowers.

Here are her tips for a garden party fit for a queen, literally.

Sending of the invitations

Always put hours and dress codes on the invitations, even if it’s just jeans, write ‘Smart Casual’.

If you’re a guest, royal etiquette dictates that you should arrive no more than ten minutes early. Arrive before that time and they will think you are a supplier.

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setting the scene

Buckingham Palace garden parties have beautiful marquees, but make your own with a gazebo, which can transform even the smallest garden.

Add bunting and some British flags and, for fun, some life-size cutouts of the royal family so your guests can really ‘meet the Queen’.

jubilee bunting flags

Add a little red, white and blue bunting (Image: Getty Images)

Preparing the perfect buffet

The Royals always host buffet-style events, where people come to a table and serve themselves. Post Covid follow the rule that if you touch something you pick it up and eat it. Royal’s staff are on top of dietary requirements, from vegans to allergies, so do your homework first, too, and ask guests to notify you.

Sandwich platters, cocktail sausages, and pork pies can all look very brown. So add your color by placing Union Jack napkins underneath, affix mini flags to your pork pies, and add party streamers to your buffet table.

The Queen’s buffet tables are always decorated with her favorite flowers, picked from her garden. They are chosen with care, so the aroma is not too overpowering. But look around her own garden for foliage and flowers to add color and interest.

French fries are nice to offer to people, but if you put them in a large bowl, guests will congregate in one area. So fill several bowls and spread them out.

making the sandwiches

When it comes to sandwich fillings, the real nod to the Queen is the Coronation Chicken, which is always served at Royal garden parties. Royal sandwiches have gotten more adventurous over the years. They still have cucumber sandwiches, but they create a mix of cucumber with other ingredients for a twist. So be adventurous too.

When you’re plating your sandwiches, follow royal tradition and cut them into small finger-shaped rectangles, which look best on a plate and are easier for guests to eat.

Worried about your sandwiches drying out? If you are going to make them in the morning, take kitchen paper, moisten it with water, place it on top of the sandwiches and cover it with cling film and then put the plate in the fridge for later. It keeps them perfectly cool and moist.

serving the drinks

If you need to chill wine or beer quickly, wrap it in kitchen paper, run it under cold water, wrap it in cling film and put it in the freezer; It will cool down in 10 to 15 minutes.

Grant works in partnership with Thornbury Castle, the only royal Tudor castle you can spend the night in, as it is now a luxury hotel and restaurant.

To celebrate the Platinum Jubilee, Thornbury Castle is serving champagne afternoon teas daily on the grounds or indoors (from £35.00 per person), or you can book your special Queen’s Jubilee lunch on Sunday June 5 at £57.00 per person. Luxury Dorms including B&B from £249.00. reservations: +44 (0)1454 281182.

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