When we heard that the Princess Royal was to visit Paris, and that one of her engagement was to plant a tree in the Ambassador’s Residence, we immediately jumped at the opportunity to try and find a way to either plant our own tree alongside hers, help her, or just stand there…as long as we got involved! All groups and units here in Paris are currently
thinking how we can support Prince Charles’ Queen’s Green Canopy project given that the environment is so important to all of us, so the opportunity was too good to miss! Thankfully, the newly arrived Ambassador was keen for us to get involved, as were Palace officials, so we got the green light.
The start was really fun. The Ambassador’s residence is a really secure area, but once you’re inside, you can see a trampoline because the Ambassador has children!! I wonder if they’ll join Scouts!!?? We then went to the State Dining room which was really, really fun. The head Butler, Ben Newick, is a real legend, and he fist bumped us, saying this is what you do when you arrive at the Residence!!! We got to eat loads of little sandwiches and miniature cakes which were really, really nice!! We also got to drink juice!
Then the Deputy Ambassador made a little speech introducing the Defence Attaché Air Commodore Tim Below, who told us he was a former Scout and had achieved the Queen’s Scout award!! He then presented the 1st Maisons-Laffitte GSL, Gillian Barrett, a Commissioner’s Commendation – she nearly cried she was so surprised!! We took the opportunity to shout a big Oggie Oggie Oggie for her…everyone joined in, including Ambassadors from other countries (Australia, Canada, and St Kitts and Nevis) and senior military guests!
We then went outside. Though we weren’t able to plant our own tree, and the Princess is quite capable of planting a tree herself, so we stood there, taking the whole experience in, listening to the words of the Ambassador (the Queen herself has already planted a tree in the Residence garden a long time ago…we got to see it!), and we even got to meet and speak with the Princess! She asked us how many British scouts were in France, where the units were, and whether we would also plant trees for the Queen’s Green Canopy. Of course we said yes!
It was a really incredible opportunity which our group which included the Southern Europe DESC, a GSL, one Beaver, 2 Cubs, 2 Scouts and 2 Explorers will remember for our whole lives!!
From Yves Gagnon, District Explorer Scout Commissioner, Southern Europe