DOZENS of Women's Institute members from Cumbria have been removed from a Buckingham Palace garden party guest list after spending hundreds of pounds on new outfits and train tickets to London.

They are among 500 WI members nationally who were eagerly anticipating attending the event, arranged for June 2 to mark the organisation's 100th birthday and due to be attended by the Duchess of Cornwall and Countess of Wessex.

But an 'administrative error' by the WI's national federation (NFWI) has left them 'devastated' that they cannot now go to the palace.

Cumbria and Westmorland WI chairman Ruth Rigg, from Old Hutton, confirmed that 24 of the disappointed women are members of local WI branches in the county.

"It's very disappointing and sad for those members who have been affected," she said. "But they're very understanding."

Tebay and Orton WI's Jackie Huck, one of those who will be going to the garden party, said some members would have spent a lot of money on outfits and train tickets.

"We were very upset for those affected when we heard about it," she said.

Celia Cleobury, the Cumbria and Westmorland WI secretary, said she believed many of those who had bought rail tickets would still travel to London on June 2.

"They will still want to have a good time. We've heard that other WI members who now won't be going to the palace are planning to hold an alternative garden party in Green Park."

Eight thousand places were available for the party, with each of the 6,600 WI branches across the country invited to select one member via a ballot. The NFWI then handed out extra tickets to federations according to their size. However, the national federation belatedly realised 'a dreadful error had been made' and too many tickets assigned.

NFWI head of communications Charlotte Fiander said: "It was entirely the NFWI's fault. We had an administrative error with the spreadsheet."

She said the organisation had written to those affected to apologise 'for such an upsetting mistake'.

"We're all as devastated as the members," she added.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said safety and catering considerations meant garden party numbers were limited to 'a maximum of 8,000 guests'.