Collins family attends royal garden party
LONDON—Stefanie Collins, 2001 Odessa-Montour graduate and member of the 2012 Great Britain Women’s Olympic Basketball team, was joined by her parents for a garden party, May 30, held at Buckingham Palace in London.
Janet Collins, Stefanie’s mother and Montour Falls resident, said the event featured more than 8,000 guests, many of whom had represented Great Britain in last year’s Olympics. She said seven members of her daughter’s team were present and were able to bring guests. The party was attended by Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip (her husband), Prince Andrew (the queen’s second oldest son), and Princess Anne (the queen’s only daughter).
While Stefanie went to school at Odessa, she was born in Upper Heyford, in Oxfordshire, England. Janet Collins explained they still have family in England, including her own mother who just turned 91 years old during the visit. Stefanie’s place of birth and her professional years playing basketball in Wales made her eligible to represent Great Britain in the Olympics.
The garden party was a reception for the Olympiads. According to the official website of the British Monarchy, the Queen hosts at least three parties at Buckingham Palace every summer as well as one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. More than 30,000 people attend. Janet Collins said she also saw people in uniform from commonwealth countries like Australia and Canada.
She explained the group was allowed onto the Buckingham Palace grounds through the main gate. She described it as “surreal” looking back at all the people standing outside the fence. Collins said the dress code was suits and dresses, adding all women had to wear hats or headpieces called fascinators.
The group then entered the palace, went through a courtyard, into another part of the building, and finally out to the garden. Collins said the first room was filled with large portraits of past royal family members, while sets of fine china were on display in the second room.
Collins said the queen appeared an hour later. She explained Elizabeth went around talking to people who had obviously been selected beforehand. She added the queen did come within 10 feet of Stefanie and her parents. Collins added the event was very well organized and included a 400 foot long tent with food and refreshments.
“It’s still unbelievable. I never dreamt I would I go through the gates of Buckingham Palace. Here I am living in upstate New York,” she said, adding “I’m proud and happy Stefanie was able to go.”