I don’t mean to be a Queen but I haven’t a thing to wear
Summer in London is all about Wimbledon and Pimms and illegal Hyde Park swims.
It’s cricket, it’s walks by the Thames and musings about the weather … oh yeah and it’s the odd invitation to take tea with the Queen in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, in a gentile setting that dates back to 1609.
In what is akin to finding a gold wrapper to Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, an invitation to the royal soiree is indeed one’s highlight of one’s social calendar.
I don’t know Lord Chamberlain personally, but I reckon he’s probably a top bloke.
It might have been my name (after all Charlie found a gold wrapper) but the heavy card invitation mailed to my home read: “The Lord Chamberlain is commanded by Her Majesty to invite Mr and Mrs Charles Miranda Esq to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.”
Up you go son ! Very exciting.
But then I read the attached list of protocols and buried amongst the ban on cameras and instruction on the wearing of top hat and medals is the statement - “National Dress may be worn”.
National Dress? What the hell is our national dress? I know what it is for the cricket and I certainly know what it is when the Swans are hosting at the SCG but I don’t think it’s ever been suggested to me for a tea party.
But then the last tea party I was invited to was in my big sister Heidi’s bedroom when I was three and then the dress was most certainly clean pyjamas.
Strewth! The only true ambassador for Australia I know who has ever had an audience with the Queen is Sir Les Patterson.
Maybe stained patterned ties, ill fitting shirts and linen suits is our dress code.
Aussie author, commentator and general high profile Sex-in-the-City-esque gal about London town Kathy Lette has been to the palace many times and would surely know.
“Yes, I have been to Buck house for a bit of a Barbie,” the one time Cronulla beach girl remarks casually.
“National dress is so sartorially tempting but it’s always been too cold for my teeny weeny bikini. Although an Aussie in a cossie would definitely give Prince Philip a thrill. Being chased around the shrubbery by the Royal Consort would certainly give new meaning to the term ‘Costume Drama’.”
But then, looking over her shoulder, she cautioned that dress was the least of my problems.
“What you must remember is that the English don’t speak English,” she said in a conspiratorial lowered voice.
“They speak euphemism. So, when they say ‘oh, you Aw-stray-lians are so refreshing’ this doesn’t mean they like you. What it means is ‘rack off you loud mouthed colonial nymphomaniac’. I know. How dare they call us loudmouths! I mean, we have our standards.”
Then she muses at the prospect of being deported and suggests maybe she could impale a corgi on the tip of her stiletto next time’s she about the palace.
Next on my advice list is the Queen’s favourite ex-pat painter and professional wobble boarder Rolf Harris.
Not exactly known for his sartorial elegance, he’s more comfortable in a Jenny Kee than a Saville Row but he’s true blue.
“I think oatmeal RM Williams moleskin trousers, red RM Williams shirt an Akubra slouch hat and RM Williams boots of course, that’s Aussie,” he said before quickly adding that a pair of shorts, thongs and an open neck shirt “with the sleeves rolled right up to the shoulders” was also a recognised dress.
“That’s summer, that’s Aussie too,” he laughs.
Bill Muirhead is a founding director of advertising giants M&C Saatchi and in his dual job as South Australian agent general to London, has also sipped the odd Twinnings at the palace.
His dress is always impeccable and on the London social circuit he is known as a man of style and substance but indeed he’s as Aussie as Hoges.
“National dress, it’s very obvious!” he declares gregariously.
Then without a shadow of a doubt adds: “RM Williams elastic sides, must be dark brown, and bone coloured moleskin trousers with kangaroo skin woven D buckle belt also dark brown. Pale blue thick cotton pocketed shirt with South Australian Jockey Club tie, Navy blue single breasted jacket and Akubra, mid size brim. That way you would pass for a true blue OAF. That’s Old Adelaide Family.”
Too bad I’m not from Adelaide, my parents actually migrated from Europe to Victoria when I was a baby and I live in Sydney but I get his point.
National dress is not something you normally think and perhaps a national debate is required for when that gold invitation arrives, you have to think stubbies and blunnies or RM’s and thongs. On this occasion I may place it safe in just a suit but I will be ready next time.
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