Palace to become fantasy land for children's party

Buckingham Palce gardens will be turned into a fantasy land based on the stories from British children's literature, and will involve a hunt where the 2000 children at the party have to search around for the Queen's missing handbag that contains a speech, that she herself will read out once it is found.

Palace to become fantasy land for children's birthday celebration
21st June 2006

A treasure map showing the transformation of the Buckingham Palace gardens into a fantasy land of children's literature was unveiled today.

The colourful drawing revealed the characters and celebrations taking place at the Queen's home on Sunday.

As well as enjoying a Mad Hatter's Tea Party and Flamingos' Croquet Lawn on the Palace Terrace, the 2,000 youngsters will be able to explore Mr McGregor's Garden - based on Beatrix Potter's Tale of Peter Rabbit, as well as Fairyland and AA Milne's Hundred Acre Wood.

The entire grounds will be devoted to the garden party with the banks of the lake becoming a pirate beach and the small island a Pirate Camp.

Toad of Toad Hall will be rowing about on the lake, leaving from his Toad Hall Landing Station.

Toad of Toad Hall, from "The Wind in the Willows."

There will also be the Thomas the Tank Engine station. Fifi and The Flowertots, and Kipling's Jungle Book will also feature.

The illustrated map was drawn by Amorel Hamilton from designers Squash Post, who have created a programme to be handed out on the day.

Thomas the Tank Engline

Three thousand people including 2,000 children and 1,000 adults who won tickets through a ballot, will gather for the event which celebrates the Queen's 80th birthday this year.

Guests will collect their food hampers, put together by Jamie Oliver, from the Royal Tea Tent.

Fifi and the Flowertots.

The Queen will meet the celebrity chef and explore the goings on in her garden for around an hour-and-a-half, before watching a live show which takes place on a specially constructed stage.

The performance, featuring Jonathan Ross, Julie Walters, Martin Clunes, Ronnie Corbett, Patsy Kensit, Harry Hill and Alan Titchmarsh, is due to begin at 6pm.

The England football squad face Ecuador in their second round World Cup clash at 4pm.

If the match overruns with extra time and penalties, BBC One's coverage of the show could be delayed.

The performance, called The Queen's Handbag, follows the hunt to find who stole the Queen's bag containing her speech and to return it in time for her to deliver it at the show's end.

The monarch will take to the stage at the end to say a few words.

The tale adapts Roald Dahl's much loved book The BFG. Dahl's granddaughter, the model Sophie Dahl, was the inspiration for the book and will also take part in the show, playing herself.

There will also be a 20ft Big Friendly Giant surreally sitting in the Marble Hall of the Palace as guests arrive.

In the quadrangle, as well as Postman Pat, will be Black Beauty in the form of a real horse. Anna Sewell's classic tale was the Queen's favourite book as a child.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Toad in his Bentley, Postman Pat and Fireman Sam will travel up The Mall in a procession to the Palace as the party is about to begin.

Other royals attending will be Duke of Edinburgh and the Countess of Wessex. Sophie's daughter Lady Louise Windsor, who is only two year's old, will not be there.

The date of the party coincides with one of Paddington Bear's birthdays. The character, who has two birthdays like the Queen, will also make an appearance.

The idea behind the party is to celebrate the success of British children's literature and encourage youngsters to read more.
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