How to throw an English garden party like the Queen

We’re celebrating HRH’s 90th birthday this year with a jam-penny perusal of our favourite royal garden party practises

The Year of the Queen Garden Party

In honour of HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday, the high-end event companies at House of Hudson, or HoH, have been engaged to festoon the nation with a great quantity of royal garden parties. 2016 is the year of the Queen Garden Party and we are honoured to be leading the charge! As such, with a hat-tilt from HoH to HRH, we’ve compiled our favourite royal garden party practises into this dainty guide.


Royal Garden Party Protocol

Customarily the Royal Family enter their annual English tea party to the tune of 10,000 upturned voices signing ‘God Save Our Queen’. Follow in their footsteps at your royal garden party by making a grand entrance! If the prospect of the vocal outpour of your guest list unnerves you, consider playing a chunky track over an impeccable sound system to lighten the mood.

It is customary for the Royal Family follow separate ‘lanes’ through the crowd at their annual English garden party to ensure fairly distributed interaction throughout: an excellent strategy for any highly attended English tea party. While there are no formal rules for greeting a Royal, unspoken rules of etiquette are always enforced. Curtsies from ladies and head bows from gentlemen are appropriate at royal garden parties, but selfies, overly vigorous handshakes and hugs are not. You don’t want to preside over your Queen Garden Party as crumpled as a crumpet.


Queen Garden Party Faux Pas

At English tea parties seating plans matter, and ignorance of even antiquated protocol could lead your royal garden party to falter. It is a time-honoured custom and ancient insurance policy against stilted conversation that the hostess converses with the guest to her right first. Lewis Hamilton famously ‘forgot’ his etiquette at the royal table when he attempted to engage HRH in conversation as the first course was served, despite being seated her left. Needless to say Mr Hamilton was sharply reproached before being greeted once more by her elegant, royal back.

English Garden Party Food and Drink

When it comes to a regal English tea party, there is no such thing as excess. At the Queen’s annual royal garden party over 27,000 cups of tea are served! Earl Grey is the chosen blend. Try Twinings or Fortnum & Mason, as both carry Royal Warrants. Other important items on a Queen Garden Party menu are HRH’s favourite English garden party dainties: perfect crust-free tuna and cucumber sandwiches, British strawberries, Queen Victoria’s chocolate ganache sponge and jam pennies (crust-free jam sandwiches the size of an old English penny). To wash it all down? HRH will take a gin Dubonnet cocktail (a.k.a. the Zaza) over champagne any day. To make, pour equal quantities of gin and Dubonnet over ice and garnish with lemon peel.


An English Tea Party Tent Fit for the Queen

Even in midsummer, your English tea party should prepare for every possible weather system. Cue a marquee fit for the Queen.

english garden party

The Cornish Cream tent makes for a delightful garden party.

The royal family have long had a love of William Morris. They even offered him the poet laureate in 1891, which he turned down, denying his place in the Royal Household. Morris’ sensitivity to natural beauty and his fascination with Medieval and Arabic art have been brought to life in the Arabian Tent Company’s William Morris Marquee. The marquee’s dedication to fine craftsmanship, its Eastern influences and crisp ivory and sage interior, make the William Morris marquee the quintessence of English garden party charm. HRH would not be out of place taking afternoon refreshment here at her English tea party.

We see what the Royal Family saw in William Morris’ unique visual poetry, and are not unfamiliar with the royals ourselves: last year we hosted Prince Charles at a polo match, and became a favourite with both Saudi and Qatari Princes! Invite William Morris and HoH to preside over your Queen Garden Party this summer, in celebration of 90 glorious years of HRH Queen Elizabeth II.


Tell us about your Event!

We look forward to hearing what you're planning; when you get in touch do let us know:

  • the number of guests you're expecting
  • what tent/ furniture/ service you are interested in
  • the date of your event
  • the delivery location

We have limited our delivery distance to within 100 miles of our West Sussex base to help reduce carbon emissions.

Ask about our Eco tips for your next event.

You can contact us directly by calling 0800 193 5229 emailing or you can use the enquiry form opposite.

Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Please enter a valid telephone number
Please select an event type
Please enter a valid date
If you don't have an exact postcode, give us an indication of whereabouts in the country your venue will be so we can quote for delivery.
Please enter a location
Please enter a message