THE QUEEN OF NORWAY AT VILLA MASSEI
Her Majesty the Queen of Norway is a keen gardener. A few weeks ago she contacted us with a request to visit our garden on the 18th of July. It was during her summer holiday on the royal yacht, which was docked in Livorno for the Queen's Tuscan garden tour with a few old friends and royal staff.
This is Queen Sonja snapping a picture of the fountain at the Umbraculum here in Massa Macinaia. That's Peter Curzon, who organized the visit, with Gil, in green pants, and Ann Bauer, formerly with the United Nations, one of the Queen's closest friends.
The garden tour was divided into two parts, one bit before lunch and the other afterwards. This is where we all gathered, in the grotto, for an aperitivo at about 1:30 PM, mid-visit.
It was a brilliantly sunny day, as always here in Lucca in the summer, and so we staged the luncheon in the cool shade of the loggia. There were twelve of us, the Queen, members of her entourage, Jane and Lance Hattat, and Gil and me.
The tables were decorated with green crab apples, which the Queen very much admired, snapping several photographs of the centerpiece.
This is where the Queen sat, to my right.
Upon departure we exchanged gifts. We gave her a copy of our book, Un Giardino a Lucca, and she presented us with this exquisite package.
There was a card inside the box—note that the lining of the envelope is of the same motif as the royal wrapping paper above.
It was a Norwegian pewter bowl by Askdoll Brug, a copy of a 1780 original, hand engraved with the Queen's initial "S" and the royal coronet.
Afterwards, she signed our guestbook before she was driven off to Livorno and the Royal Yacht, HNoMY Norge, with its awaiting Norwegian Navy crew of 71.