I love PBS

I'm watching a documentary on the preparations for a state dinner at Windsor castle. There will be about 130 guests, if I recall correctly. This somehow translates into 815 glasses. I'm hoping those don't all have to be washed by hand, but given that they're fine crystal they probably do. They'll certainly be dried by hand.

The amount of attention to detail is just incredible. The distance to the edge of the table from the edges of the plates, glasses and flatware are carefully measured. There is a stick that is the exact proper length for the distance from the edge of the table to the chair. The queen apparently notices all of these things and much more.

There were a number of interviews with the staff, describing their jobs and what they will do different for the state dinner. It's obvious that the pressure is on, but everybody is clearly very proud of the job they do and in good temper. I have seen no yelling or even unhappy faces, just reiterations that they'll do their best and make it perfect. Even though the start of dinner was delayed 15 minutes due to protestors delaying the arrival of guests, the chef was quite good natured about things, merely saying that the fish would not be quite as perfect as he'd have liked.

I cannot imagine the amount of logistics work that goes into this. The Princess Royal will be drinking nothing but fresh-squeezed orange juice. The Queen's beef will be served with a bit of parsley on top so that she knows that it's hers and that it is cooked well done. I could watch the planning of banquets and things like this for days. Right now there is a man lighting the candles on the dinner table (a single table). In order to do this he is standing on the table with slipper socks on his feet. The candelabra is still nearly as tall as he is. The chef said he had 5 months worth of planning that went into the dinner. He likens it to having a baby. And now they're taking it all down and putting the dishes and extra chairs away.

The detail, the formalness and the elaborate ritual of this sort of thing just fascinates me. Heck, just watching the opening of Parliament is entertaining. I'll have to keep watching for more episodes of Windsor Castle: A Royal Year.

I was surprised to learn that guests who are staying at Windsor Castle have their luggage unpacked and their personal items put away for them. They also will have their luggage packed for them prior to their departure. Careful notes are kept as to what came out of which suitcase. They showed a team of housekeepers practicing with a set of mocked up luggage.

I'd like to have a household and garden as neat and precise as that at Windsor Castle. I'll be needing more staff before that happens. Although it does make me wonder if the Queen would be at all untidy in her private life. I'm pretty sure she probably wouldn't, but I have always thought the Queen Mother would have been a bit disorganized, in a lovable sort of way. My level of disorganization, however, has gone past lovable to the edge of hopeless. I definitely need more staff. :o)


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