iQualify UK Principal attends Buckingham Palace reception for Queen’s Award for Enterprise winners

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iQualify UK Principal attends Buckingham Palace reception for Queen’s Award for Enterprise winners

I was delighted to be invited to Buckingham Palace, on behalf of iQualify UK, to a reception on 12th July for winners of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the presence of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, and other members of the Royal Family. The reception took place in the famous Picture Gallery and was attended by The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy. It is therefore easily the most prestigious British business award!

I was pleased, if rather overawed, to be told when I registered that the red/orange dot on my name badge meant that Princess Anne wanted to speak to me! It was of course all very slickly organised as you would expect of the Palace. We were offered drinks and canapes and chatted to one another while we waited. We tried to recognise the various paintings around us, as the Gallery is full of full of millions of pounds worth of master pieces by Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Holbein and Canaletto. I rather enjoyed the sparkling elderflower drink as the room was incredibly hot. Why didn’t Queen Victoria install air conditioning when she had the Palace expanded in the 1850s!

It was really interesting to talk to the other Award winners, as they each had an inspiring story to tell about their businesses and why they won, although I think we were all slightly nervous about meeting a Royal. Military Aides circulated ahead of the Princess explaining that we should call her Her Royal Highness and make a short head bow (if we wanted to) on first meeting her, and thereafter Ma’am (pronounced as in ‘jam’) and we could shake hands if she offered hers. They then arranged us into groups of three or four people ahead of her, so she could seamlessly move from one group to the next.

I bowed, shook hands and spoke to the Princess who asked about iQualify UK, the impact of Covid on us and then wished us well. Altogether a very pleasant, if relatively brief, chat with a very impressive person. I was fortunate to be selected for the honour, as only some were, although everybody did have the opportunity to speak to one of the members of the Royal Family who were present.

We had to hand in our mobile phones before we were allowed into the reception room, but there was an official photographer who took the photos inside the Palace. Of course we, the attendees, took photos of one another on the way in and out as well as we were walking where the public are not normally allowed to walk!

While I had the honour of attending, I was very conscious and grateful for the hard work and effort by my colleagues at iQualify UK, and of our students, who together won the Award, and made it possible for me to attend what, for me, will undoubtedly be an unforgettable once in a lifetime occasion. Thank you.

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