CAROLYN and I are about to head off to Buck House to have a swift sherry with HM.
(I know, I know: first class travel, millions of pounds claimed in expenses, an on-site gym, subsidised food and drink, more nubile slave girls than you can shake a stick at and now an invitation to the palace! MPs have never had it so good; they should be taken out and shot instead, etc, etc…)
I’m not sure how often these events occur – the last time I attended was in 2002. I expect Carolyn will want to acquit herself with more dignity this time.
Basically, what happens is this: you mill around having a drink with a couple of hundred of your colleagues, then line up to meet HM and Prince Philip. Then after the formal introductions, various senior members of the household – last time that included the Queen, Prince Philip and Princess Anne – mingle with the guests. All very informal and relaxed.
Actually, now that I remember it, last time got off to a bad start. Carolyn and I shared a taxi from the Commons to the palace with Tory MP, Andrew Rosindell, famous at the time for his affection for his (very British) bulldog. At a loss for a topic of discussion, I asked: “So how’s the dog, Andrew?”
I seem to remember the short taxi journey taking rather a long time after that.