5 Ways to Garden Party at Buckingham Palace Like a Pro (Hint: Go for the Finger Sandwiches First!)

PEOPLE gives you all the delicious details from inside the Queen's latest garden party

Photo: Courtesy Monique Jessen

There were 8,000 guests – but mercifully no spring rain! – as Queen Elizabeth II held her second tea party of the season on Thursday at Buckingham Palace.

Alongside her husband Prince Philip, and aided by her son Prince Charles and daughter-in-law Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, the 90-year-old monarch moved through the crowd on the lawns, standing out in a one-button coat and a cerise dress by Karl Ludwig Couture with a matching hat by Philip Sommerville.

She likes a little gossip, sharing a tidbit with well-wisher Barbara Wilkins, 82: “She said her grandchildren did things for her digitally, but she didn’t like them to be on their phones and computers all the time. She was like any other grandmother, really. ‘”

PEOPLE was among the guests flattening the lawns and has some tips for how to get the most out of the splendid event.

1. Wear comfy shoes, like the Queen’s sturdy pair from Raynes.

Queen Elizabeth spent 48 minutes walking slowly through the crowd to the royal tent, where she stood for another 55 minutes chatting to guests. And don’t stand still for long if you’re in heels – the soft ground will soon diminish your height.

2. Grab the sandwiches when you can.

The delicate slices of cucumber and mint, gammon, mustard and vine tomatoes and egg and mayonnaise sandwiches are tiny – but plates are too. Then go back for cake! The mini lemon tarts, alongside mini pieces of Victorian sandwich cake, were especially good. With 8,000 guests taking a selection of six or seven items, that’s a lot of preparation for the catering teams!

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3. Come prepared with an umbrella.

The Queen carries her signature Fulton birdcage umbrella (in the same color trim to match her outfit of course). For ladies, don’t forget your hat or fascinator-style headpiece if you want to go lighter. And, gents, if you’re grand enough for top hat, you can always balance it on the handle of your umbrella poked into the soft turf. PEOPLE spotted a lovely line of them stuck into the ground at the back of the diplomatic tent.

Related Video: A Royal Lesson in High Tea

4. Get an invite to the exclusive diplomatic tent.

There are extra seats and good cover during potential rainstorms, and the wonderful color and splendor of the various African and Asian representatives in traditional dress. And it’s the perfect spot to watch the Queen lead her party into her tea tent.

5. Don’t be afraid to be nosy.

Tour the gardens and spot the tennis court, the little lake and the parading Yeomen in bright tunics. While photos are banned, following plentiful cups of tea and cake, emboldened guests can’t resist taking the odd selfie, with that magnificent palace backdrop. (Just don’t tell the older palace staffers, who frown on the practice!)

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