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Royal Family

Man uses 'strange' loophole to get invite to Buckingham Palace garden party

Good news if you’re from New Zealand and would like to meet Queen Elizabeth.

GREG AGNEW FOUND a loophole he says got him an invite to one of the most exclusive events in London – a garden party with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Kate and William at Buckingham Palace.

Agnew, a 56-year-old investor in companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook and a former journalist who lives in Los Angeles, is originally from New Zealand.

He said: “I discovered this strange little loophole that I think was created in Queen Victoria’s time.

“Anyone with a New Zealand passport can simply request an invitation. I did that and they said yes. It was that simple.”

The option appears to also exist for other countries like Australia.

This is the invite Agnew says he received for the party, which took place on 16 May, after simply applying through the New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry.

img6141 Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

Agnew and his wife Nicole, an American citizen, travelled to London for the event. She was Greg’s plus one.

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On the day of the party, they went to New Zealand House in Trafalgar Square, showed their passports and were given their tickets.

img5333 Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

“For British people, it would have been more difficult to get in,” he said. “There are all of these laws over the years and nobody ever moves them, they still exist.”

The official Royal Family website states that: “It is not possible to acquire invitations to The Queen’s Garden Parties through direct application to Buckingham Palace,” adding that “a long-established network of sponsors is used to invite guests, who include Lord-Lieutenants, Societies and Associations, Government Departments, Local Government, the Services, the Church and other Faiths. They nominate guests for invitation and we hope in this way to achieve a representative cross-section of the community.”

The Agnews showed up at Buckingham Palace early. “The gates technically open at 2pm, but there’s a large crowd of people so it takes quite a bit of time to get in,” he said.

img5335 Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

There were three entrances to choose from. “We chose the front gate entrance. We assembled at the gate, went past police security and had our identification and invitation checked.”

img5354 Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

“We went through the gates to the gravel area in front of the palace, then walked through Buckingham Palace into the courtyard. It was a great way to see inside the palace.”

img6165 Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

He added that “they were very strict about no photos inside the palace” but they saw grand staircases and “hundreds of paintings” before making their way out through the “grand steps” at the back of the palace.

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“That’s where you can see the Queen’s gardens and the giant lawn at the back with a tent for food and drinks.”

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“There were two different tents with two different bands at the front and the rear.”

img6448 Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

“To the right of the band at the rear, there was a diplomat and foreign leaders area, which was slightly roped off.”

img6507 Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

“You enter and mingle, and everyone is taking photos. They didn’t try to police photos.”

Agnew said the party officially started at 3pm and at 3.30pm the staff started to “place people who have been chosen to talk to the Queen and Will and Kate strategically in a line so they get to talk one by one”. They also briefed them on how they should act around the Royal Family.

At 4pm, God Save the Queen was played, and Queen Elizabeth II came out with Prince Philip.

img5442 Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

Then Will came out…

img6287 Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

…followed by Kate. Other members of the Royal Family followed.

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“They stand in a straight line, come down one at a time, then beeline for the people who have been allocated for them to talk to,” Agnew said. “It’s extremely well organised.”

“Each person has at least one handler who briefs them on every person they’re going to talk to.”

img6387 Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

“There’s no obvious security or crowd control, people are very well-behaved,” Agnew said.

It’s very casual, you walk amongst them, they’re very friendly. Prince Philip was very generous with his time, talking to people, laughing, giving them lots of time and attention.

At about 5pm, the royals headed to the diplomats’ area and “focused on the people there”.

At 5.30pm, they went to the Royal Tea Tent to drink their tea while the crowd watched.

img6220 Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

The guests also headed for refreshments.

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On offer were finger sandwiches, wraps, salmon blinis, fruit cake, tarts, and eclairs, as well as tea, iced coffee or apple juice.

img6442 Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

At 6pm the royals went back into the Palace, but guests were told they could stay and enjoy the gardens, which Agnew says includes a “pond with geese, stone bridge, and a semi-wilderness, ‘like if no one was living there’”.

img6529 Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

“It was never that crowded,” he added. “They’ve sorted out how to invite the right number of people.”

A former journalist and investor in cloud and tech companies, Agnew said being in London, where he has been a “dozen times” for work, meant something special to him.

“I covered plenty of things in London including Princess Diana’s death, which made this kind of special, with it being the 20th anniversary,” he said.

img0123 Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

He called the party “the experience of a lifetime”.

img6589 Greg Agnew and his wife, Nicole Greg Agnew Greg Agnew

“I was extremely impressed,” he said.” I loved the fact that especially in this time of high security they gave us absolute freedom. We felt very welcome and as if it was their pleasure to have us all there.”

- Alison Millington, Business Insider

Read: Taiwan to become first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage

Read: Dust from the first moon landing bought for €900 could sell for €3.5 million

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