It’s not often one gets to go to a party with British Royals. Read about Claire’s experience here.
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Claire writes: “About a month ago the British Embassy in Stockholm got in touch, asking whether I knew any British people who volunteer in Sweden. They were looking for people to invite to an event, but were very unwilling to say much about the event at all. So I passed on a few names and waited to hear more.
Several weeks later I got an invitation to an evening reception at the British Embassy, where the guests of honour would be Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall. I was also asked to be a group leader. What this meant was that I would be introduced by the Ambassador’s wife to the Duchess of Cornwall, and then I in turn would be responsible for introducing Camilla to a number of other people (these kind of events have to be very carefully managed).
This was followed by a couple of days of frantic dress shopping – being 4 months pregnant, none of my existing smart clothes fit me at all. I finally found something that didn’t make me look like a misshapen balloon, and I was ready to meet the royals.
It was a lovely evening in the embassy area opposite Djurgården, and the embassy building itself was beautiful – with fantastic views over the water. About 150 people, both Swedish and British, were gathered to mingle and meet the royal couple, and there was an air of excitement in the building. There were also lots of questions – Does one bow or curtsey? Do you offer to shake their hands? What do you call them? (Answers are, yes (but discretely), no, wait until they offer their hand, and say ‘Your Royal Highness’ the first time you address them and then after that use ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’.)
The little group of people I was responsible for were all volunteers and had a range of experiences between them – a police volunteer, the secretary of the International Women’s Club, a volunteer in a school, and working with fair trade organisations, to name just a few. And, when the Duchess of Cornwall finally arrived (they were running a little late), she was interested in hearing about everything that people did.
I was impressed with how interested she seemed, and the way every person got a few moments of her undivided attention. We weren’t supposed to meet Prince Charles as well, but he apparently got through his groups more quickly and then moved on to ours. I was thrilled when he said that The English Volunteering Project was ‘obviously a brilliant idea’. He is someone who has worked with a huge number of non-profit organisations, and if he thinks it’s a good idea, I think that’s a great endorsement. Not that I have it in writing, but I will definitely be telling potential funders what he said.
Look out for my next blog (in about 2 weeks) when we’ll be launching a fundraising campaign for The English Volunteering Project. This will be your chance to play a part in making this project happen.
By Claire Thomas
Check back in a few weeks to hear more about Claire’s progress.
Claire Thomas was born in Hong Kong, grew up in Northern Ireland and has lived in Scotland, England, Germany and now Sweden (where she hopes to stay for a good long while). In this blog she shares her experience of setting up a project focused on helping non-Swedish speakers to find volunteering opportunities with non-profit organisations in Stockholm.
If you are interested in the project you can contact Claire by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Like us on Facebook to follow the project’s development – go to ‘The English Volunteering Project in Stockholm’.
The project is part of Volontärbyrån www.volontarbyran.org
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