Category: London, 2019

The Queen, the High Court and more friends

August 5.

Breakfast at the flat. Drizzly, gray morning. More Londonish than the lovely and comfortable weather we’ve had since arriving. Explained the difference between barristers and solicitors to the girls, because we’ll be seeing both today.

Went down to our local tube station and set out for Buckingham Palace. Carol had booked a visit to the palace this morning, something that is available only during August. We hadn’t really expected it, but evidently the queen got wind of the girls’ visit and insisted on a photo.

The tour of the Palace was terrific, with wonderful audio giving just enough detail to be interesting and not to bore. No photos were allowed inside, but the rooms were grand and the contents exquisite. One gets a sense of the evolution of the palace and the central role of Queen Victoria. Wonderful tour that I’d recommend to anyone coming in August. Afterwards, we had our photo taken outside the Palace, where, as you can see, it’s turned into a lovely day, with very comfortable temperatures.

Left the Queen and moved on to the National Portrait Gallery, where we had lunch in the lovely windowed dining room on the top floor. Afterwards we had only a short time, with the girls splitting off to look at Tudor portraits that they’d read about and Carol and I looking at fifty portraits, chosen as the best in the annual portrait contest sponsored by BP. Many of them were quite outstanding and the styles represented differed greatly, one from another.

After leaving the portrait gallery, we made our way to the Supreme Court of the UK. Though the Court is not in session during the summer, we had the treat of being shown around for an hour and a half by our friend, Nick Wilson.

I got to know Nick in 1966, when, as a recent Oxford graduate, he came over to Northwestern University School of Law to assist in teaching legal writing. We’ve seen Nick and his wife, Margaret, from time to time over the years, most recently in Chicago, where he was delivering a prestigious international law lecture at Northwestern University School of Law that I had helped to make happen. Nick is known in London as Lord Wilson of Culworth, after a distinguished career as a barrister and QC, is now a justice of the UK Supreme Court. His wife, Margaret, is a distinguished lawyer herself, having served as an Appeals Court Judge. (We will be with Nick and Margaret tomorrow, when we go to Stratford, and spend the evening at their “cottage” not far from there.

Here we are with Nick and Margaret last year in Chicago and a formal photo of Nick in his wig, when those were commonly worn by barristers and judges.

Nick showed us all of the three courtrooms and explained the workings of the court. THe 12 Supreme Court judges generally sit in panels of five. The court was created only some fifteen years ago, having prior to that been a part of the House of Lords. They have been in the building in which they now reside only ten years. Approximately 1/3 of their time is spent hearing final appeals from countries around the world that were formally part of the British Empire, though many are no longer. He showed us the beautiful, bug little-used library.

In his chambers, he served us tea and cake and did not shy away from pointing out how technologically unsavvy he was, showing us how he used the computer screen that the Court had provided him. We said goodbye to Nick (until tomorrow) and returned to our flat for a brief rest and change of clothes, then headed out to have dinner with Andrew and Hilary Walker. As was true of my relationship with Nick Wilson, I got to know Andrew in 1966 when, as a recent Oxford graduate, he came over to Northwestern University School of Law to assist in teaching legal writing. We renewed our friendship with Andrew, when Carol and I spent a year in London shortly thereafter attending many musical events together.

Years later, on leave from his position as Senior Partner at the prestigious London solicitors’ firm of Lovells, Andrew visited Northwestern for several months, which I played a small part in facilitating because of my relationship to then Dean Bob Bennett. At that time, we got to know Andrew’s wife, Hillary, who studied art history, and we traveled with them to the East Coast for almost a week, before they left to return to London. Years later, we spent about ten days, being hosted most graciously by Andrew and Hilary, at both their London flat and their Scottish cottage. We saw opera, both at Coventry Garden in London and at Glyndebourne in the South of England. Here we are with Andrew in formal dress at Glyndebourne (Hilary must have been taking the photo.).

We had a very pleasant dinner with Andrew and Hilary, introducing them to the girls and catching up on recent news (to the extent that we could in the rather noisy restaurant).

We tubed back to our local stop, having topped up our Oyster cards (the cards one purchases to ride on the underground, which can be added to– or topped up–when they get low on funds). Near as we can figure the cards are named for the phrase “the world is my oyster,” since the card gives one access to the world. After 11, so retired in preparation for what promises to be another full day tomorrow.

4 comments to The Queen, the High Court and more friends


    Fun day and so interesting.

  • Julie Heifetz

    More history(of England and of their grandparents) for the girls to absorb than they could ever get by reading. So nice to be able to show them off to friends.

    Looks like a very full and fun trip for all of you.


  • tom

    Looks like you’re having a great time, catching up with friends and the Queen. I’m sure she was honored to see you again. Did you ask her for a laundry bag?

  • Kay Osborne

    Good for you and Carol, Arnie, that you remain in touch with so many friends from back in the day. Happy the Queen honored her obligation to meet with your family. I’d have been quite upset if she’d ducked out and had you meet an underling.

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