London was its usual merry ol’ self, preparing for Wimbledon and the World Cup, and keeping up with the Royals who seemed to be everywhere. Our three days went fast, revisiting Harrods and Harvey Nichols, and spending an hour at Kensington Palace. Patti Baron and I (who are the ultimate royal watchers) took in the latest in a series of temporary exhibits held in the Palace, from the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, Modern Royals, while Scott sat outside watching the royal lawn being mowed. He observed that the gardeners mowed a patch of grass five times to get the perfect height.
The exhibit consisted of dresses worn by HM Queen Elizabeth II, her rebellious sister Princess Margaret, and Princess Diana, covering the 1950's through the 1980's. It showed the impact all three women had on international fashion: the nipped in waist silhouette of the 50's when Queen Elizabeth took the throne, Princess Margaret's interpretation of the 60's with bright colors and a slimmer cut, and the exaggerated shoulder pads and frills Diana made popular in the 1980's. Some of the 21 gowns that had never been exhibited before were showcased in clear cylinders, with video and photographs showing the gowns being worn by each woman. I remember those photos of Princess Diana, never believing that I would be in the same room with them, seeing every detail.
I have always wanted to visit Notting Hill, made famous by the Portobello Market, and the movie starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. A business acquaintance of Scott's took us to lunch there, and as we strolled through the distinctive neighborhoods, we passed the red door of Wetherby School, where the media couldn't get enough of William and his parents on that first day of school many years ago. While our friend was happy to be enjoying the rare warm temperatures, Patti and I kept our eyes peeled for a glimpse of a British celebrity or royal who make Notting Hill their home.
The big sighting came later, when we stood in line for theatre tickets in Leicester Square. A red carpet had been extended along the walkway to the theatre, and a crowd had gathered with cameras and iPhones in hand, waiting for someone to make an appearance for what appeared to be a charity event. Patti and I decided it was worth jockeying for position along the barricades. Just as we elbowed our way through, a motorcade pulled into the staging area and out popped Prince Harry. The distinctive red hair was easy to follow as he greeted fans. We ended up staying for dinner and foregoing the show, deciding the best entertainment might be watching Harry exit the theatre. His departure was quick, and with a wave he was off to the next royal engagement.
On our last day in England, our friends Robert and Jean, who live in a hamlet with thatched roofs and rolling green pastures, invited us to their home for lunch and a relaxing afternoon. Patti got to ride in Robert's Aston Martin, and we visited a farm where Jean boards her horse. The change of scenery, and so much green, was surreal since we are used to brown hills and lawns at home. From Paris to London to Benicia, it was 8 days filled with fun, fashion, friends, presidents, and a few close shaves with royals.