Dan and Noreen Walsh on their wedding day, November 20th, 1947
My grandmother at the tender age of 96 still talks about the day Queen Elizabeth and her late husband Prince Philip sent her an invitation for afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace. They received the Royal invite because they shared the same wedding day, and it was coming up to their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
My Grandparents - Dan & Noreen Walsh cutting the cake at their Golden Wedding Anniversary
According to Nanny Noreen “we weren’t the only ones invited to the Palace that day, the Royal couple invited everyone who was married on the same day as them on November 20th 1947. We were all invited to celebrate our Golden Wedding Anniversaries together in splendour of Buckingham Palace”.
My grandparents may have been married on the same day as the Royal couple, but their lives were worlds apart. Nanny and Grandad are both from Ireland originally, Nanny left the Comeragh Mountains, Co. Waterford at 19 years of age for England and Grandad left his home of Spiddal, Co. Galway, aged 25. They met each other in London towards the end of World War II and the rest is history!
Post war London was in devastation and was been built back up brick by brick. Grandad’s first job was in demolitions, dismantling bombed down buildings after the war. While Nanny was a young nurse in St Bartholomew's Hospital. They married six months after meeting at a Pride of Eireann Dance. She was 23 years old and Grandad was 33.
The Royal Wedding was a very different affair
Their wedding was not the lavish affair that the young Royals enjoyed, Nan recalls “everything was rationed in England back then, we didn’t even have a biscuit on our wedding day. Your Grandfather was done up like a Lord, from the shillings he had saved but I had to borrow an overcoat from a fellow nurse. I was so late for our wedding because the mean old Sister in the Hospital held me back, Dan thought I was going to stand him up!”
This is a story I have heard a million times growing up but I suppose it became more real from watching the TV series ‘The Crown’ and the burial ceremony of the late Prince Philip earlier this year.
Nanny was glued to the television on April 17th last, watching every last detail of Prince Philip’s funeral from Windsor Castle. She was always fascinated by the Royal family after living in London for nearly 40 years.
Queen Elizabeth & Prince Philip on their wedding day, November 20th, 1947
Nanny and Grandad settled back in Ireland in 1980 but they never forgot their life in England and the opportunities it gave them. We are Irish to the core but Nanny always remembers their life there with fondness, even down to the dishes she still cooks today.
Back in the ‘80s when Irish people religiously eat meat and two veg dinners, our house felt very exotic with Nanny’s cooking. Every day after school she would feed us her favourite recipes, the ones she enjoyed with her much diversified London friends. We often ate Indian curries full of cooking apples and raisins, spaghetti Bolognese, toad in the hole, bangers and mash, Yorkshires puddings, pigs in blankets to name but a few.
Life was good to them in England with a great Irish community around them. To this day she still tells us stories of post war London, right up to the crazy swinging 60s. So you see the invitation was very special to Buckingham Palace on their joint Golden Wedding Anniversary.
Unfortunately my grandparents could not make journey back to the UK, Grandad was 83 and his heart was bad. So instead we threw them the wedding reception they never had in Bennettsbridge Community Hall. With 150 guests in attendance for a sit down meal and Fr. Duggan saying mass before that party, Nanny said it was a feast fit for a Queen!
Sadly Granddad passed away a year later on their 51st Wedding Anniversary. Nanny at 96 years of age still thinks of her love every day, especially as she looks at the framed letter they received from Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, which read…
“This is a special year for you and for us, and we are sorry that you cannot be at Buckingham Palace on 15th July to celebrate our Golden Wedding. We hope that you have a very happy anniversary and send our best wishes and congratulations to you both.”
Elizabeth & Philip
3rd June, 1997”
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