'Once in a lifetime': Leamington Fire chief attends Garden Party at Buckingham Palace
CBC News

Top hats, fascinators, and royal guests. 

It was a "once in a lifetime" opportunity for Leamington Fire Chief Andrew Baird — a chance to attend a Garden Party hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

Baird said he applied for the chance months ago as the fire chief and as a Canadian military veteran, and was thrilled to receive his official invitation.

After months of anticipation, on Wednesday, Baird and his wife Victoria Baird dressed up and made their way to the palace.

"The Queen was there. Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice and Eugenie were there as well," he said. 

"It was amazing."

He said some in the crowd of thousands did line up to meet the Queen, but Baird said he preferred to sit back and watch.

"Tents, chairs, bands playing, top hats, long coats, uniforms, and all those women's hats they all wear on the side of their heads," he described.

"For myself, I have no fashion, so I'm lucky. For me, I just wore a uniform. And my wife who was a fashion consultant, it was all for her basically, so when I told her she was going, she was beside herself."

He also described it as a moving experience.

"It's emotional, just, to see all that history was … emotional," he said.

"I was very proud to represent Leamington. I had a badge in my pocket. Harry didn't come close enough, so I couldn't hand it to him," he said with a chuckle.

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