Thursday night this week was a swanky dinner in aid of the Princes Trust at Prince Charles’ private residence in the Cotswolds, Highgrove House. It was a real treat to be invited to this event and although it was a bit of a trial getting there from London (where I’d had various meetings), I donned my black tie and entered the fray.
Security was, as you’d expect, tight with all mobile phones banned from the estate and photo identification required to enter Highgrove. I have to say not being able to tweet and take pics was a shock to the system, one that my wife found highly amusing, who was gutted not to be invited.
Highgrove is as perfect as you’d imagine and the event was held in the formal events part of the house. The champagne reception room walls were covered in Prince Charles’ watercolours – he’s no slouch either, they were very good – whilst the ballroom walls were adorned with no doubt very valuable oils of Charles and other royals. Although Charles wasn’t there in person, he could well have been as we dined beneath a rather familiar looking portrait of a rakish looking Prince of Wales resplendent in a kilt and smirk.
World famous cellist and brother to the theatre impresario Julian Lloyd Webber performed an exquisite recital on the cello to a captivated audience. It struck me it was like a performance that could have been happening over a hundred years ago, this kind of classical music is so enduring. Some of the music he played reminded me of the musical accompaniment to silent movie classics, in particular Harold Lloyd’s Just in Time or Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid. Praise indeed.
Later on we were treated to a recital by the highly acclaimed violinist Julia Hwang which was another captivating, transformational performance. It really is fantastic to hear this level of musical talent and quality up close and personal.
The event was in aid of The Prince’s Trust who are a brilliant charity helping disadvantaged young people get back on their feet and out into the workplace. It was moving to hear Prince’s Trust ambassador ‘G’ talk eloquently and sparingly about his life of addiction to alcohol and drugs and how the charity had helped turn his life around. He’s just bought a new van for his plumbing business in Bristol and although it’s not all plain sailing, he’s in a better place than he was before. It was a powerful testimony to the work of The Prince’s Trust.
Dinner and drinks were all of the highest order and having attending these kind of dinners before, the food usually ranges from bad to awful. Given the head chef is Prince Charles’ own chef at Highgrove then we were clearly in good hands. The kitchen didn’t put a foot wrong and special mention has to go to the cheese plate and port accompaniment, which rounded off a wonderful dinner.