A Royal Invitation

For this year’s round of invitations to the Buckingham Palace Royal garden parties, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend. I went wearing my chain of office as Vice President of Hepatology and representing our society.

I felt doubly honoured, not only to be VP Hepatology, leading a committee in a world renowned society, but also to be recognised by my peers and colleagues who had nominated me. The source of the nomination is never revealed, but it must have been someone local to me as it was the Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire who contacted me regarding a nomination in recognition of public service.  Of course, I was never going to say no – who would! The date was set – 21st May 2024 at Buckingham Palace.

It had started raining by lunch time and arriving promptly at 3pm, I was shown round to the gardens where a sea of people sheltered under umbrellas to await the appearance of the Royals due at 4pm.  It is estimated that 8,000 people attend a garden party, but the grounds are so vast it didn’t feel like that many.  On this day, the King's Royal Garden party was attended by Prince William and his cousins Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, Zara and Mike Tindall, Peter Phillips, plus the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.  My chain of office for VP Hepatology was a draw, it gave me an opportunity to talk to Zara about it as she toured the crowds and I like to think that I had a wave directed at me from our future King.  No one left early despite the constant rain, everyone was cheery and friendly, from the King's body guards managing the public, to the other guests at my shoulder, to the Royals themselves.  After the meet and greet, we headed to the tea tent and were rewarded with finger sandwiches, tea, and cake.  None of the crowd dissipated and still it rained – we headed to the gardens for a wander.  Here more people stopped to talk to each other, some in uniform, some in national costume, all looking very glamorous.

My invitation was exciting and unexpected, not unlike my pathway to being Liver section Chair followed by VP Hepatology. This was a result of partly taking advantage of opportunity, and partly accepting challenges as they are offered. My position as a BSG chair of a higher committee has been unusual. Not only am I the first woman to be chair of the Liver committee, but I am also neither an academic nor from a university or teaching hospital. Here is an example of where fate can lead you if you take up the opportunities offered – I would definitely recommend applying to join committees, groups, councils of interest, and to generally be involved. You never know whose parties you may end up being invited to.

Dr Coral Hollywood

VP Hepatology

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