My good friend, Tria Giovan, came down from New York to assist me in making the arrangements. We created close to 50 arrangements and displays, working intensely from Friday through the weekend, Monday and Tuesday.
On Tuesday, at around noon, I was asked if I could be available "in my finery" to meet with the the Queen at Blair House. I didn't have any "finery" and would not be able to change before the meeting. I expressed my concern at meeting the Queen in red corduroys (with dirty knees!) and a flowered blouse. I was assured that what I was wearing was fine. There wasn't much I could do about it at that point anyway.
About 20 other Embassy staff were also asked to Blair House. We rode down in a van, went through security, and headed in to a room where we were offered water, juice and tea. I still didn't know what to expect and thought that perhaps she would come into our room and simply be introduced to us as a group. However, a man announced that we would be led individually into an adjoining room where the Equerry (I never knew what one was until yesterday) would announce our name and we would proceed forward to meet the Queen and the Duke. We were told that we could bow or curtsy if that was our custom but that was not expected or required. She would say a few words and hand us a gift and when she extended her hand that was the signal that our face time with Her Majesty was over.
At this point, I got really nervous. A private audience with the Queen?! What would she say? What would I say? What if I said something stupid? Whose life was I leading? I wished that my clothes were at least clean.
The Equerry asked me how to pronounce my name and rehearsed it three times. Then he announced me and correctly pronounced my name. I thanked him and floated forward to the Queen and the Duke who were standing at a table.
I felt like I was in a movie. In a sweet soft voice the Queen said "The problem with these garden parties is that you never really get to see the garden. There are too many people." I said, "Yes I guess so. I work primarily in the Residence with the flowers." I don't know why I said that, as she had just been introduced to me earlier in the day at a tree planting. But I was nervous and not in control of my words. She said "Yes, I know. The flowers are lovely." She then said, "You have been working very hard today. (She must have noticed my dirty knees).
I replied, "Yes, I have" and the Duke said "Well you better get back at it!" We all laughed and then she thanked me for my hard work and the flower displays, and handed me a signed photograph of the two of them in their regalia. I thanked them, shook their hands, and floated out of the room to another filled with finger sandwiches and more tea.
Slightly over one year ago, I left my job as a government attorney. I never in my life ever imagined that I would be designing flowers for state dinners, let alone the Queen of Great Britain or the President of the United States. I am so happy that I took this chance to follow my heart and do what I love.
It goes to show that if you follow your heart and your passion, amazing things can happen.