I was Tossed Out of the Queen's Reception

Yup…it’s true. I was thrown out of a reception given by Queen Elizabeth.

My buddy Paul and I had first met in London, when we recognized each other instantly as backpack-carrying Americans. Turned out we were both looking for the same old warehouse, where American kids with sleeping bags were bedding down at night. We were friends – and still are – from that moment on.

It wasn’t long before we were exploring one of London’s greatest treasures – the British Museum. Later on, we came upon the Prime Minister’s residence at No. 10 Downing Street. And – just before the Bobbies “requested” that I cease and desist – I had knocked on the Prime Minister’s front door.

That evening we decided to try Greek food for dinner. We kept ordering the spiciest, most tongue-scalding foods on the menu. And by the time we walked out of there, our mouths and throats were on fire.

On the way back to the warehouse that night, we came upon a long line of limousines stretching out in front of the British Museum. And a non-stop stream of hoi polloi getting out of them and walking into the museum. The men were all wearing tuxedos, and the women formal gowns.

I walked up to one of the guests emerging from a car door held by his driver, and asked him what was going on.

“Oh,” he said, “the Queen’s giving a reception for the British National Track Team, before they’re off to compete in Europe.”

“We’re goin’ in,” I said to Paul.

And, like the sturdy Midwesterner he was, Paul said, “Steve, we can’t go in there. We’ll get tossed out!”

My response? “So we’ll get tossed out. They’re not gonna put us in jail!”

So, dressed in dirty blue jeans and ragged shirts filled with perspiration (it was summer), and unshaven as well, we took our places at the end of the reception line as it began moving forward.

We attempted to blend in by making small talk with the elegantly-dressed couples stepping out of Rolls-Royces and Bentleys. (A tactic about which our “conversation” partners seemed very much aware...and very ill at ease.) But despite the way we looked – and the Bobbies walking up and down the line - no one stopped us as we passed the first checkpoint.

Then we got inside the building, and my confidence began to rise. We reached a point where the long line ahead of us curved to the left, behind a wall. And I realized that the Queen was greeting her guests behind that wall.

As we got closer to the second check-point, I whispered to Paul, “We’re gonna make it. We’re gonna meet the Queen!”

Then, we continued right past the checkpoint. The Bobbies were checking for invitations. But for some reason, they never checked us.

A minute later, however, a very heavy hand landed on my shoulder. At the same time another heavy hand landed on Paul’s.

“Tickets, please,” the two Bobbies said sternly. But, alas, our story that we had left our tickets in the hotel room didn’t work.

We were then escorted out by the two large policemen. Who expressed a desire that we leave the premises – fast.

So we never got to see the Queen. But to this day…I’m glad we tried.