The Queen’s Award Reception 2016
Lee Bryant recounts the event at Buckingham Palace
What could possibly top the pride of winning a prestigious Queen’s Award for Innovation? Well, meeting Her Majesty the Queen at the reception in Buckingham Palace could certainly contend; and remarkably, that’s exactly how Riki Samuels, Sesui’s Chairman and Founder, and I spent our evening on July 14th.
For one day only, we and 500 other excited guests were greeted with champagne and canapés in Buckingham Palace’s striking state rooms. Impressive garden views and beautiful hallways set the scene whilst we mingled with other Award winners and eagerly discussed enterprise.
After a mere five minute wait, a set of grand doors standing at 30 feet tall opened – without announcement – to reveal the Queen herself. She stepped into the room to display other royals standing behind her including the Princess Royal, Princess Eugenie and the Duke of Gloucester. Unlike previous years where there had been official announcements, the reception was exceptionally informal; a striking contrast to the formality and grandeur of the setting. The royals walked a loop of the guests at their ease, and everyone had the rare opportunity to meet them individually.
The most pleasantly surprising element was how friendly and natural the royals were. The Duke of Edinburgh engaged us with his amusing sense of humour, whilst Princess Eugenie asked Riki if it would hurt if she kicked the cast on his leg! And of course, the Queen herself was both impeccably presented, well informed and incredibly charming. She was charismatic and seemed genuinely interested in our discussion about Sesui.
Later on, we discovered that the room the royals had emerged from was the Music Room. Along with priceless artwork and ornate ceilings, the room was furnished almost entirely in gold. Sitting in a crimson armchair decorated with gold framework, I contemplated the history of the place. Who else had sat there before me? The Queen? Nelson Mandela? Winston Churchill, even? These thoughts stayed with me as the evening drew to a conclusion, and I felt incredibly fortunate and honoured to have had the experience.