I can’t believe four weeks has passed and I haven’t blogged about meeting His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales!! Yes you read correctly... not the Prince of Nigeria (as he would be my brother as I’m a Princess back home don’t you know), but yes, Prince Charles.
The special day was Friday 26 February. A few weeks prior to this I had been contacted by The Prince’s Trust events department, requesting my attendance for a private event the Prince was holding at St James’s Palace. When I heard who was inviting me and where I’d be going, I nearly fell from my chair. Whilst I sat listening excitedly on the phone, I had now stood up and started dancing like a fool, prancing all over the office.
Fast forward to the day in question, a car arrived to pick me up to take me straight to the palace, so it was a great start to the day. I spent my time in the car talking to my driver and updating my Facebook status – which obviously was highlighting what I was up to and resulted in streams of responses, which were words of support and encouragement from friends and loved ones.
Once we arrived at the Palace I met with various Prince’s Trust employees who escorted me upstairs to the main reception room. A few weeks ago I was asked to have a stand to showcase the company alongside the trust, so when I arrived everything had been set up for me – all branding, samples, tester pots the lot. As the attendees of the event were CEO’s of councils all over the country, many of them were mingling around by now, visiting mine and the other stands which were highlighting the several areas of support the trust offer to young people.
We were 45 minutes into the event when everyone (180 guests) were split into 5 groups to take part in round table discussions on how the trust can work with the various councils and how the trust can in turn help the young people of the boroughs into employment and education. A short film on some of the activities The Prince’s Trust do was shown to all guests on a large television screen. At the end of the film the facilitator opened the floor with questions and the discussion began and lasted for about 1 and a half hours. Whilst this may sound a little boring, it actually wasn’t. Half way into the discussion, the facilitator who was the London Regional Director for the trust introduced who I was to everyone. I knew prior that the trust required me to give a talk, informing the attendees of my journey since becoming involved with The Prince’s Trust, so I was prepared. As per previous posts, it was a little nerve racking, however I thoroughly enjoyed it as I had the full attention of the entire room - avidly listening to what I had to say. There are not many opportunities for a young self employed woman who has recently founded a natural skin care business to be in a situation where she’s talking to a captive audience of senior level members of staff, from decision makers for local councils and senior management at million pound turnover companies. I think this is what further added a ‘sweet taste’ to the whole thing, that fact that I later found out I was the only young person running their own business to have been invited to attend the event. I had been selected to represent the young people who have been supported by the trust (we’re talking thousands). If I wasn’t sure when I set foot in the palace, then I surely understood now why I had been given the first class treatment from being picked up in the morning being chauffeur driven to and from the palace. I now had the full attention of 30 + CEO’s and high level managers from well known corporate companies who support the trust, and I won’t lie, it felt good, real good.
After the round table discussions came to an end we were ushered back out into the main reception of the palace where we were served lunch (and what a lovely lunch it was). As I stood at my stand I was approached by several council CEO’s and Mayors, who were interested to learn more about Emi & Ben, my association with the trust and whether I would be coming to trade in their boroughs. After I had shook hands with what had probably been my 7th introduction, it was then I spotted Prince Charles; walking around with his aides, being introduced to key people in the room. The first thing I noticed was that his shoes was exceptionally shiny, (yes I know what I weird thing to say, but I’d be lying if I mentioned anything else first). Oh and his ears are not at all like how 80’s programme Spitting Image exaggerated them to be!
After His Royal Highness (*smirk*) had been mingling for what felt like an hour or so, he was introduced to the stage to give his speech. He came across very passionate about the charity and clearly stated what his aim was for today’s event. He included a few jokes which had the guests laughing, however I’m sure 99% of them would have laughed at the Prince’s jokes, even if it wasn’t funny. As his speech drew to an end one of his aides walked through the crowd and introduced herself to me. She said the Prince would like to meet me and asked me to walk back to my stand. As I stood back at the stand, Prince Charles walked off the stage and straight over to me. His aide introduced me by saying “His Royal Highness, this is Ronke...”. He replied “Oh Ronke, of Emi & Ben? It’s a pleasure to meet you; you’ve done so well, you should be really proud of what you’ve achieved. How long have you been running? “ “Five months” I replied. “Anyone would think you’ve been operating for 3, 4, 5 years – you’ve achieved so much in such a short space of time, you should be extremely proud”. I was by this time smiling like I had won the Euro millions roll over. I couldn’t believe how personable he was, I was on cloud nine with all the things that he was saying. He asked me to explain what Shea butter was, where I imported it from and how I made it into body butter. He also asked if he could try some to which I replied that I had a package to give him. Before he could instruct his aides, they had already made eye contact with me and motioned that I should give them the package. Two CEO’s who I had had previous conversations with jumped into the conversation confirming that they had discussed that they’d want me to work with their them on various initiatives within their boroughs, so I could engage with the young people to inspire them to becoming enterprising. “Anything you involve Ronke in I’m sure will be a success, judging by how she’s presented and continues to present herself and her business “. With that, he shook my hand again and said he wished me all the best and he looks forward to trying the body butters as well keeping in touch. *smiling*. Can I just say that I totally forgot to follow the appropriate way of greeting him? Handshake, courtesy and “Hello Your Royal Highness”. I think I did the courtesy and said “hello”! I had far too much to remember!
I could drag this post out some more, tell you how fabulous I felt after meeting him, how he’s my favourite Royal Family member now; and how this day may have just made one of the top 5 moments of my life thus far, but I won’t, I think you’ve got the gist of how I felt. Oh and can I just say I have the most proud Nigerian parents ever! I’m sure the whole of Nigeria know I’ve been in the home of the British Royal Family. :)