Fife Free Press reporter Fiona Pringle's impromptu Sheep's Heid dinner with the Queen
Me: 'I'll have what she's having.'
Me: “Royal blue dress. Pearls.”
Waitress: “Um...ok, it’s the lamb, is that what you want?”
Me: “Yes, and what is the Queen drinking?”
A rough approximation of the conversation between myself and the waitress at the Sheep Heid Inn, Edinburgh on Friday night.
Myself and nine other friends were going about our normal peasant business – out for dinner to celebrate one of our number’s birthday.
The location was chosen due to the olde skittle alley that runs along the back of the historic pub, coupled with a fine gastronomic reputation, and a pituresque beer garden which adds its the charm.
With everyone seated I took to the bar to place our drinks order.
The Sheep Heid Inn is, as any very old pub is, low ceilinged and compact. Squeezing through to the bar area, from the collection of 10-12 smallish tables, is tight.
And, for some reason my bar focus was thrown by a flash of royal blue.
Not one to nosey in on others mid-meal, particularly considering the close proximity you are to all diners at any one point, I took but-a quick glance to my right...Her Majesty. Fork in hand, chowing down on the lamb, in the local boozer.
Spreading an evitable aura of true British decorum, no-one else seemed too fussed.
The waiting and bar staff were going about their normal business, tables of more local, locals than us, chatted amongst themselves.
There was nothing to do but hurry to the bar and question everything I have ever known. “Do Royals normally pop in for Happy Hour? Is this real? Am I awake?”
While I waited on the barmaid attempting to make sense of my garbled drinks order, I took a moment to furtively scan the room. And my super sleuth gazing was met with...about eight pairs of equally sleuth-like eyes. Albeit they were all focussed on me...and coming from large men in smart suits. I dropped my gaze and somehow made it back to the table – via the queen – without squealing.
My friends entertained my flamboyancy fleetingly, before turning back to their conversations.
A solid five minutes of persuading later and all 10 of us were tittering behind the nearest pillar trying to capture a shot of the monarch, sat in a wooden booth cutting up some roasties in what can only be the rarest of spontaneous public appearances.
Beaten by a pang of good taste and some exceptionally large security staff, we retreated to our table and changed tack.
Quizzed the waitress.
Who, to the credit of all the staff, were poised and annoyingly tight-lipped but exceptionally good at their job, which is a side point but worth noting.
And there ends the story of my off-the-cuff dinner with the Queen. One I hope to dine out on for years to come.
We are led to believe she even joined in with a birthday sing song for poor Euan, who was gloriously outshone by her majesty’s last minute booking.
As we retired to the skittle alley sans Liz, we manage to eke the smallest of details – including the fact that staff, given less than an hours notice of the royal arrival, were nervous! Which didn’t show. And if we hadn’t been followed everywhere but the toilet cubicles, by men with coiled wires coming from their ears, I would not have believed it was happening.
And for those left wanting, no she did not pick up our bill and it was a martini, although shaken or stirred, we’ll never know.