Princess Anne, or, as she's referred to, Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, is Prince Charles's younger sister. (Ninth in line for the throne, for you trivia lovers.) She also happens to have an interest in research in Antarctica, and, in fact, has visited there twice, most recently in January. So, she was the featured speaker at today's UK launch of the International Polar Year. (Science writer buddies: the full launch is on Thursday in Paris. Bet you'd like to be there!)
The event was held at the Royal Society in London. Cool lineup of scientists gave presentations, although anyone who actually knew anything about polar research (not me) would have found it a bit cursory. I sat four rows behind Princess Anne, and spent way too much time pondering whether she puts her hair into that bun herself every day or whether she has people to do it for her. (She stayed for the entire scientific program, by the way. Very devoted.)
In the rows between her and me, there were some Sirs and Lords and I think even a Dame. And some members of the House of Lords, which I'm not sure what that is. I really need to study my British Parliament. And I also need to get a real camera, so when I'm being a dork and taking snapshots not to use for my job but to post on my blog, I at least look professional doing it.
I had to get back to Cambridge pretty quickly after the event, but I took a quick walk and cruised past Buckingham Palace:
... and then zipped off on the Tube to King's Cross to catch the express train back to Cambridge. Just 45 minutes! Even that was cool. This was the view for about 65 percent of the trip:
And it quite often featured fields of sheep and horses. (Not together, though.)
I'm trying to be casual about the whole thing, but I really am giggly inside at this day that included royalty, a palace, and English countryside. How lucky am I!