OPINION: An email arrived in my inbox about a month ago, not long after I'd arrived in London to be Newshub's Europe correspondent.
It was from the Foreign Press Association and it announced: "Fancy tea with the Queen? Then sign up for one of her garden parties".
After a quick Google, I discovered the Queen hosts a handful of afternoon tea parties in her garden at Buckingham Palace each year with each one catering for around 8,000 people.
I replied to the email saying I was super keen. Who wouldn't be? This was the residence of our head of state and she was going to be there!
To my surprise, I got a reply a week later telling me my wish had been granted, and that I was allowed to attend the party on June 5.
So that morning, I ironed my best shirt. I chose my favourite tie. I pinned a silver fern to my lapel, along with a small pin of the crown itself. I was looking dapper for my date with Queen Elizabeth II.
I arrived at Buckingham Palace to find queues of beautifully dressed people at every entrance to the royal house. Luckily I skipped those hideous queues and found a special entrance for media. And in I went.
I was taken through the main entrance, then through a wee courtyard called The Quadrangle, then through the state rooms, and finally through a little sun room called The Bow Room, then it was out into the backyard.
Wow. What a backyard it was. Incredible. Beautiful. Manicured. It was around this time I discovered the Queen wasn't going to be there. The Royal Standard flag wasn't flying over the palace.
Instead, it would be Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. What? Really? What an anti-climax!
Once I recovered from the news, it dawned on me that I was inside Buckingham bloody Palace! I should embrace it, explore it!
So after the trumpets and drums welcomed some soldiers (the Queen's bodyguards the Yeomen of the Guard), I went off to explore the garden.
The lawn was an ocean of colourful dresses, bright fascinators, and felt top hats. It was like a day at the races, without the wine or horses and with much more class.
The lawns were manicured and the gardens full of glorious colours.
I continued to walk all around the gardens, unsupervised. It was an incredibly peaceful experience and there was hardly anyone else who was doing the same.
It was hard to believe I was in the centre of London as I explored the backyard of the world's most famous castle. There were birds in the trees and ducks sitting on the grass.
There was even a lake, complete with an arch bridge and a rescue buoy in case anyone fell in.
At one point, I went off piste and came to the perimeter fence. It reminded me of that scene from M. Night Shyamalan's film The Village when they came across the wall.
I got lost in the beauty of the garden and lost track of time, which meant I actually missed the arrival of Charles and Camilla. Whoops.
Luckily, an official royal photographer was there and took this photo:
Once I was reunited with the press guide, she suggested we head to the food tent and have some tea and scones. Who would argue with that?
Inside the food tent was a table that stretched for around a hundred metres, decorated with beautiful flowers and beautiful food.
The highlight was the ham and mustard sandwiches, and a cake that tasted like Nutella infused with Ferrero Rocher.
To top it all off, they served ice cream - a choice of strawberry or vanilla. I chose strawberry.
One of my highlights was the band. This was no royal band playing just classical music. It was like James Horner or Hans Zimmer was there conducting classic film soundtracks. They played the James Bond theme, then the theme from Indiana Jones, then Star Wars, Beauty and the Beast, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Incredible.
After the feast, our group went to see if we could spot the royals. I managed to see them both. Just.
Then that was that. We were ushered out the door and sent on our merry way. A great afternoon at the Queen's house, even if she wasn't home.
Lloyd Burr is Newshub's Europe correspondent