EXCLUSIVE: Duchess of Cambridge to attend her first Buckingham Palace garden party this month
17:37 GMT, 11 May 2012
The Duchess of Cambridge is to notch up another major royal first when she attends a garden party at Buckingham Palace later this month.
Considered to be one of the highlights of the summer season, all eyes will be on Kate as she joins the Queen to take tea with 8,000 guests in the gardens of the royal residence, Mail Online can exclusively reveal.
Unfortunately the Duchess will have to carry out the engagement on her own as her husband, Prince William, cannot get time off from work at RAF Valley on Anglesey where he is a Search and Rescue pilot.
Perfect poise: The Duchess of Cambridge looked sensational when she attended a private dinner in London on Wednesday, wearing a Roland Mouret dress and Jimmy Choo heels, so royal aides are confident she will take an engagement at a Buckingham Palace garden party in her stride
But royal aides are confident, given the poise and self-assurance with which the 30-year-old has conducted herself of late, that she will take the event in her stride.
The Duchess has already carried out a handful of solo engagements without the prince and on Wednesday night looked sensational in a cream Roland Mouret dress and 450 Jimmy Choo heels at a private dinner in London.
She had been expected to attend her first garden party last year but was ‘excused’ due to her upcoming inaugeral royal tour of Canada, so her appearance alongside the Queen and other royals, believed to include her ‘in-laws’ Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, will be even more keenly anticipated.
The Mail cannot disclose the exact date of the party due to security concerns, but it will take place within the next few weeks.
Royal rite of passage: Kate has already been on engagements with the Queen but this will be the first time she's attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace
A royal source said: ‘The Duchess will be attending her first garden party at Buckingham Palace. It is something of a rite of passage and she is looking forward to it immensely.
‘Unfortunately the Duke will not be able to attend due to work commitments but the Duchess is happy to attend on her own.’
The Queen’s garden parties are quintessentially British and a chance to celebrate the achievements of people who have contributed to public life or their local community.
They have been held at Buckingham Palace since the 1860s when Queen Victoria instituted what were known as public 'breakfasts', although they took place in the afternoon.
In the 1950s the number of garden parties held at Buckingham Palace was increased from two to three a year, taking the place of presentation parties attended by debutantes.
Time for tea: The Queen hosts garden parties at the palace every year and ensures she mingles with all her guests
They have since evolved into a way of rewarding public service and are attended by people from all walks of life, invited on the recommendation of a variety of national organisations including the Government, Civil Service, Armed Forces and the Diplomatic Corps as well as charities and local Lord Lieutenants.
The parties normally take place in June and July but have been brought forward this year due to the Jubilee celebrations.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by other members of the Royal Family, enter the palace gardens at 4pm to the sounds of the National Anthem played by as military band.
Flying solo: The Duke and Duchess walked through the palace gardens the day after their wedding, but Prince William won't join Kate when she returns as he will be on RAF duty
Each member of the Royal family then circulates among the guests through 'lanes' which are peculiar to Royal garden parties. Random presentations are made so that everyone has an equal chance of speaking to Her Majesty and members of her family before they arrive at the Royal tea tent to meet VIP guests.
Tea and other refreshments are served in enormous quantities. At a typical garden party, around 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 slices of cake are consumed with 400 waiting staff involved in the serving.
Last year guests were treated to tea, iced coffee and organic apple juice along with cucumber and egg mayonnaise sandwiches, mini strawberry scones, coffee clairs and tiny chocolate mousse cakes embossed with a gold crown.
In recent years, the Queen has been forced to try and make savings elsewhere in her budget to meet the bill for greedy guests who devour an average of 14 tea-time treats each.
At 6pm the Queen and the Royal party leave the garden and are escorted into the palace by the Yeoman of the Guard, Gentlemen at Arms and Gentlemen Ushers.