Ringo Starr, Nick Clegg, Jilly Cooper and Wiley were all listed in the 2018 New Year’s Honours list. All big names, with varied careers, who were awarded knighthoods, a CBE and an MBE this spring.
But, a much more important person on that list (well, to me at least!) was my dad, who was awarded an OBE for services to education.
We were all delighted and proud to hear the news as my dad has worked tirelessly to improve education in coastal communities. It was so deserved.
But, once the excitement faded, there was one worry – WHAT. DO. I. WEAR?!
The dress code is formal, natch. For recipients, morning dress, military uniform, lounge suits or national dress. My dad opted for a morning suit, without the top hat.
For guests, you’re left to find an outfit posh enough for the Royal Family, but nothing that makes you look as if you are going to a wedding.
I’d toyed with the idea of a smart jumpsuit but my stepmother insisted it had to be a dress. I’m not a huge dress person, so I looked far and wide to find something that wasn’t too tight, low cut or short, while still being young and flattering.
Then, while shopping with the OBE himself, I stumbled across a red number in Cos. It was perfect, and only £79!
Next, shoes and a bag. I’ve written before about how tricky it is to find a comfortable pair of heels, and I was dreading being on my feet all day. Luckily, Sole Bliss came to my rescue.
They make shoes for women with bunions and are popular heaps of women (including Dame Helen Mirren, so you’re in good company!). I picked a shimmery champagne Pandora heel with a matching suede bag.
They were so glam and sophisticated and I lasted in them all morning without discomfort.
Finally, something for my head. I wasn’t keen on anything too fancy so, after ordering two fascinators from Monsoon – both of which arrived with faults – I settled on a simple champagne feather fascinator from Coast.
At £39, it was more than I wanted to spend but probably as cheap as you can find for a quality fascinator.
- Shop the fascinator here
Outfit sorted, I was ready for the ceremony…
The Investiture ceremony is held in the morning at Buckingham Palace. After spending the night at the luxury Goring Hotel – known for having hosted the Middletons before the Royal Wedding – we travelled by traditional London black cab to the Palace for around 10am.
As you step through the gates, you immediately felt like royalty as tourists stopped, stared and even took photographs.
You’re welcomed into the palace, asked to put your mobile phones in the cloakroom and then the recipients are taken off and the guests are led through to The Ballroom.
From start to finish the whole day was coordinated and efficient, with officials guiding you through the Palace and to your seat. In the Ballroom, where the Investiture took place, there were around 250 guests.
In another room, there were 71 recipients waiting for their awards. Investitures are conducted by the Queen, the Prince of Wales, Princess Royal or the Duke of Cambridge. Until the day itself, you do not know who it will be.
My dad received his award from Prince William.
The ceremony begins when the royal representative enters the Ballroom, attended by two Gurkha Orderly Officers. There are also five members of the Queen’s Body of the Yeomen of the Guard, created in 1485 by King Henry VII after his victory at the Battle of Bosworth. The National Anthem is played and the guests must sing along until seated by the royal representative.
The Lord in Waiting then announces the name of each recipient, their award and their reasons for being decorated.
Once called, the recipients either bow or curtsy and have the award pinned on their jacket. The Duke of Cambridge had a short conversation with each recipient, before another bow and the recipient exits the room.
The whole process took an hour and a half and then we were escorted outside for official photos.
It was an incredible experience, one which I probably won’t have the privilege to attend again, but it was great to see behind the scenes of Buckingham Palace.
After the award ceremony, we had lunch with family and friends at Quaglino’s in St James’s.
A perfect end to a very special day.
Have you ever been to Buckingham Palace? Tell me about your experience in the comments below. CC x
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