A Very Special Day
Thursday December 13 2012 will certainly go down as a very special day in my life, when I attended Buckingham Palace for my Investiture. Everything went like clockwork from the time I left home on Wednesday morning to my return home on Friday afternoon.
Kate and I arrived in London from Lancashire by train to be met by Col Sgt Tam Miller of the Scots Guards who escorted us to an apartment that had been given for our personal use during our stay. Around 5 o'clock my son Nigel arrived having taken a flight from Inverness. That evening Kate, Nigel, Tam and I went to a local hostelry ‘The Dog House’ for dinner, I reckon Tam and Nigel were trying to out drink each other but amazingly they remained sober.
All Dressed Up
7 o’clock Thursday morning after breakfast of tea and toast, I had a shower and shave before I got dressed for my important engagement at the Palace, no waders today. It was Morning suit. Sharon who flew in from Dubai arrived about 8 o’clock and along with Kate they look a million dollars. I dread to think how much those outfits cost. Nigel meanwhile had sorted out the transport to the Palace, where we had been requested to arrive at 9-45 in the morning. Having a special pass in the car helped, quickly our invitations were checked along with identification by checked a police officer who was most helpful. In fact the security and Palace officials were so professional that you really did feel welcome.
At The Palace
Twenty minutes after arriving at the Palace Kate, Sharon and Nigel along with some 350 other guests were escorted to the Ballroom. As I walked up the carpeted staircase to another room where all the recipients were gathering, I got a lump in my throat realising I was Buckingham Palace. .
Among the many recipients were two winners of the Military Cross, Corporal Paul Vice Royal Marines and Corporal Stuart Howell The Rifles they looked like young cadets. I felt a great deal of pride being in the same room as these heroes and that’s what they are.
As I looked around there were people from all walks of life. Some to receive Knighthoods others Military awards but most of us were being presented with awards under Civil Division.
At 11 o’clock sharp the ceremony commences as HRH Prince Charles enters the Ballroom attended by two Gurkha Orderly Officers a tradition begun in 1876 by Queen Victoria. On duty on the dais are five members of The Queens Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard. Everyone stood for the National Anthem
The first investitures were for those who receive the Honour of Knighthood; they kneel on a velvet Investiture Stool to receive the Accolade. You cannot help but feel honoured to be in the presence of so many good people both Military and Civilians.
As the morning progressed I stood around with many of the recipients discussing why we were at the Investiture.
What amazed me was how all the Palace Officials made you feel at ease, though we all probably felt nervous, none of us showed it. The two Military Cross winners spent time chatting with other recipients, on occasions serving guests with a glass of orange juice.
Eventually I along with a small group was escorted to the Ballroom watched by all the invited guests and other recipients. I felt quite humble in the presents of so many good people especially the Military. As I waited in the queue a young lady from the Palace staff approached to ask if I had enjoyed my 75 birthday party in Dubai. I was amazed she had showed such interest.
Eventually an announcement was made Mr Martin James for services to Angling, to Conservation and to Charity. I stepped forward a few paces then made a smart left turn to face His Royal Highness Prince Charles, making a bow I took several paces forward to be greeted by Prince Charles, I was amazed at the knowledge his Royal Highness had of my voluntary work over many years. At the end of our conversation we shook hands, I then took four paces backwards smartly turned to my right then walked off.
You are then relieved of your award which is boxed then presented to you once more with congratulations. As I walked along to join other recipients and guests several military officers of the Army, Navy and Air force congratulated me on my award. After all the presentation we all stood for the Nation Anthem which was followed by his Royal Highness and other dignitaries walking past us followed by the body guard.
Time for Photographs
Outside in the Courtyard were a number of photographers, everyone wanted a set of photographs to show their family and friends. I also went off to meet and chat with members of the Yeoman of the Guard; I also had my picture taken with them. It added some colour to the day. Our special day ended at Brumus Restaurant until well in the evening. Certainly a Special Day.