Traditional fish & chips were on the menu at the Queen’s birthday celebration on 21 June
Photo: LaLa La Photo
British ambassador John Marshall took Delano behind the scenes as preparations were underway for the birthday celebration on the occasion of the 91st birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.
Photo: LaLa La Photo
To any of the approximately 300 guests, Wednesday’s celebration to honour the longest-reigning British monarch might have appeared to seamlessly fall into place.
“About six months in advance, we have an idea of what sort of extras we might want to incorporate into the event,” Ambassador Marshall explained. Normally Wednesday is the earliest day of the week they would organise such an event in order to give the staff plenty of time to prepare in the early part of the week.
Already by 10:30am when Delano arrived, the team of about 12, including cooks and embassy staff, plus caterers and security, were bustling to and fro between the residence and the garden to set up. In the kitchen, cooks were busy preparing fish and chips and brochettes for the guests, who were expected to arrive around noon. Although the warm food was prepared in the residency kitchen, a caterer was brought in for the cold nibbles.
The St George’s International School jazz combo musicians were also on the lawn, tuning instruments and playing the occasional riff. Part-time music teacher and extracurricular coordinator Heather Madeira Ni, who also plays trumpet with the group (also with The Ni Ensemble), leads the combo, a group of five students ranging from ages 13-17. As she explained, “The students took part in three-hour workshops over their holidays to prepare for this event.”
Ambassador Marshall welcoming the St George’s International School jazz combo Photo: Lala La Photo
April or June?
Although last year the event had to be moved indoors due to rain, this year’s guests enjoyed the traditional garden setting--even if most had to stand beneath the shade of the trees to escape the 32° heat.
Weather plays a role in why the queen has two birthdays, in fact: although her actual birthday falls on 21 April, the official celebrations tend to take place in June because there was a higher likelihood for good weather in the summer months in the UK. The Trooping the Colour parade took place, therefore, on 17 June, but as Ambassador Marshall explained, most embassies around the world celebrate the week before or the week after. There are exceptions, however. “During my previous posting in Ethiopia, we held the event in April because there was a 90% chance of heavy rain in June, but almost 0% in April,” the ambassador told Delano.
Welcoming the guests
Foreign affairs minister Jean Asselborn arrived a bit early and toured the two exhibitions with Ambassador Marshall.
One exhibition is the embassy’s “Tour de France” art project of 12 cycling legends by British artist James Straffon, who was also in attendance for the event. The other is the #LuxUKLinks exhibition, which began as a series of tweets by the ambassador. Guests to the birthday celebration were welcome to tour the exhibitions as well.
Although there was cause for celebration, Ambassador Marshall also expressed his thanks and appreciation to all who reached out to him in light of the recent tragic events that have taken place in the UK, namely the 14 June Grenfell Tower blaze, as well as the string of terrorist attacks at Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge and Finsbury Park. Of course, Brexit negotiations and the Duchess of Cambridge’s visit were also key parts of the ambassador’s speech, which Ambassador Marshall delivered in Luxembourgish and English (see full video).