Recent Posts

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Royal Wedding Wednesdays~ Banquets and Tablescapes

Buckingham Palace has been working on the upcoming wedding breakfast buffet for Prince William and Catherine for several months. The invited guests will be dining in the State Ballroom, which is the largest room in the Palace. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to reside at Buckingham Palace. This painting, by artist Louis Haghe, shows the room as it was in 1853. The Queen decorated quite lavishly with a palette of red and gold.


During the reign of King Edward VII (Queen Victoria’s son) the room was redecorated in a Belle Époque theme which featured a cream and gold color scheme. The room has remained much the same since that time.

The State Ballroom can be used for a number of different functions. Here the room is set up for a state banquet for 170 people. The setting requires more than 2,000 pieces of polished gilt cutlery, 1,104 glasses, 23 flower arrangements and 100 candles in candelabras.

For a banquet setup, the utmost precision is required. A yardstick is used by the staff to make sure that the placement of each chair, knife, glass and plate is in its correct alignment.



A number of staff will inspect each place setting to insure that  the table is in perfect order. H.M. the Queen always provides a final inspection to see that everything has been done to Royal standards.


queen lights candle


At one end of the ballroom are two thrones, specifically intended for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. It is interesting to note that they are very rarely used.



The festooning on the front of the head table dates back to George IV’s coronation banquet. While the Queen occasionally sets up a head table near the aforementioned thrones, it is not her preference.



H.M. the Queen actually enjoys being seated in the center of a table so that she is able to converse with several of the guests in attendance.


The Queen delivers a speech before the banquet


For large banquets and state dinners there is a team of 20 chefs who prepare the food behind the scenes. Within the ball room are a total of 19 serving stations to aid the footmen in serving the elaborate meals, which can include up to 10 separate courses.



The amazing tables always feature beautiful floral arrangements and platters of fresh fruit. Candlelight is provided by several candelabras. The largest are over 4 feet tall. They were designed by sculptor John Flaxman and feature the Greek mythology gods Mercury and Bacchus.



The candelabras are part of a 4,000 piece Grand Service. The service is made of silver gilt~ solid silver covered with a thin layer of gold. It includes 288 dinner plates, 140 dishes, and a staggering inventory of knives, forks, spoons, marrow scoops, ice spades and any other piece of cutlery one could think of.



The man responsible for the creation of such an elaborate table setting is none other than King George IV. He was a monarch famous for his lavish tastes and even more excessive spending habits.  The King took the first delivery of the Grand service, created by the royal goldsmiths, Rundell, Bridge and Rundell, in 1811, while he was still Prince of Wales. The original cost was £60,000 (more than £3million in today's money).


Prince Regent, later George IV 

   At each setting the napkins are folded in a Dutch Bonnet style.


The gold plates are now used just as a charger or place holder. The Queen has her own official china which bears the mark E II R (Elizabeth Regina the Second) Regina is the Latin word for Queen. The plates below are from Queen Victoria’s reign. (See the V R?)

There are six glasses used at each place setting. They include a glass for red wine, white wine, port, water, a champagne glass for the toast, as well as a champagne glass for the pudding (dessert). Each glass is inspected and as you can see, bears the monarch’s cipher.

A booklet accompanies each setting. It describes the menu, which can include up to 10 courses, and is written in French.

So what will be served at the wedding breakfast? That, like many other elements of the wedding, is a closely guarded secret. At the reception of Prince William’s parents the menu included strawberries and cream, brill in lobster sauce, and supreme de voilaille Princess de Galles ~ which is chicken breast stuffed with lamb mousse.

Of course there was also cake. But let’s save that for next week as I am now currently starving. (smile)

May your own home be your castle,


 Linking to:

Between Naps On The Porch


Teresa said...

Oh my poor heart... you don't give up, do you?
This is the post of the century - so many thoughtful and rich details to dwell in...
I'm always so proud of my tablescapes and this post proves there are Tablescapes and Your (and HM) Tablescapes.
My Home is my Castle but I pretty much prefer this one ;).
To have all niceties at your disposal, can you imagine? _teresasufferingaseriousenvyepisode: ahahahahah.
Thank you Adorable Lady (L)

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

This is all so elegant Laura!! Thanks for sharing an inside view! :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

April said...

oh, MY. unimaginable lavishness--beautiful in a totally unobtainable way. makes one wonder, if mere humanity is capable of such, just what WILL the wedding supper of the Lamb be like one day? :)
my eyes are a bit dazzled right now!

ImagiMeri said...

Good Morning Laura,

What a lovely post. It's all a little too grand for me, but thankfully I've been to enough high level meals that I know how to comport myself should the opportunity arise.....I haven't received my invitation yet, but I'm sure it's in the mail.............

Have a lovely day!

Ruth...Time Was Antiques said...

Lovely as usual. I love your careful research. A joy! I am certainly glad I don't have to set up for 600 for the Royal Wedding reception! I did a post on the wedding cake(s) in the last 2 weeks with videos from the bakers. Such fun! Will be lovely to see what it looks like!

Mom in High Heels said...

Ah, the Grand Service! George IV had style. Not a great ruler by all accounts and a terrible spendthrift, womanizer and husband, but he had style none the less.
Indy is studying Latin and two of his favorite words are 'regina' and 'rex.' He thinks it's awesome that it's part of the Queen's monogram. I wonder what will happen to all that personalized china when she's no longer queen? How many set of monogrammed china does the Crown need? Do you know if they still use the old china for certain occasions?
BTW, I like Liz's style. It's awesome that she doesn't like to sit at a head table so she can talk to more guests.
Another FABULOUS RTT as usual. We're only a few away from the big wedding! I'm assuming you'll be doing a big recap of all that?

Lorrie said...

Another stellar wedding post. It's all about the details, isn't it?

Deanna said...

Dear Laura,
Lovely post!!!

The red and gold room is gorgeous, but then so is the white and gold. What a beautiful room. It is something how the ceilings are just as decorated as the rest of the room. Interesting details and tastefully and royally decked out!

Can you imagine what heaven must look like???

Enjoyed seeing the tables set and ready to entertain the guest.


May you have a sweet life and God bless!
d from homehaven

Mary Grace McNamara said...

Well that's just the way we all set our dinner tables, right? :)

Another fascinating royal post here Laura! I thoroughly enjoying all these behind the scenes peeks you've been providing. So interesting, probably because it is so far from our own lifestyles!


Little Leslie said...

They should elope. Just kidding. Well, it's going to be 90 degrees here tomorrow, so we got your weather. I don't know if I could be brave enough to get married in all that grandeur.

Beverly said...

Laura, I have so enjoyed your series of these posts. I love watching the royals, and you've made it fun and educational.

Mimi said...

that dining room-state room is fabulous. The arrangements are amazing and the preciseness of everything must be mind boggling!!!I love it all though!!!I so wish I was going to be at that reception!!!!
go eat, I am hungry too!!!

Shelia said...

Hi Laura! OH, my goodness - what royaltyness! You have really went all out on these posts.
Awww...I appreciate the stab at a bathroom snap. If you would send me all the names I could still do something.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Laura, I have missed my Wednesdays with you lately, and this post is one of the reasons. How fascinating!

I have seen a video on this, but I think you did a better job! I loved every photo and every word.

Thank you for all of the work you put into this.

I'm going to go check out your other posts I've missed as soon as it quits thundering! Getting off my computer now. So if they're typos, it's because I'm typing at record speed. LOL!

Love you...


Sheila :-)

TRay said...

George IV is my kind of guy! Bring on the Grand Service, please!!!


The Royal PEAculiar

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Well, that is one heck of a tablescape! Thanks for another fun, informative post!

Jen said...

How absolutely breathtaking! I love how attention is paid to every little detail making for a perfect event! I just can't imagine using a yard stick for perfect measurements, but it does make for a beautiful and uniform table.

I just love this series you have done! So much fun!

French said...

I love that the menus are in French, and that ERII sits in the middle of the table. Did you hear the audio of the wedding will be out minutes after the ceremony ends; I think I will put it on the Ipad so you can listen to it as we jet across the Atlantic :)

carolinajewel said...

Fantastic information and pictures! Love that china!

Karena said...

Laura your posts are so fascinating!! These Royal details are just stunning.

Art by Karena

Sweetladyelaine said...

Thank you for reminding me how beautiful and proper the English are...
When we were there, we did take a tour of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. It was all so beautiful, elegant and regal. What a wonderful post!Thank you so much!
Blessings My Friend,

Debbie said...

This was wonderful! I am really enjoying the Royal Wedding Wednesday posts. I'm learning so much and love the photos.

The tables are beautiful, aren't they?

Can't wait for the cake post. You should have hosted a wedding cake party. I'd love to see cakes through the decades and how they have changed.

The Polka Dot Closet said...

Wow, thanks that was great! I do broken china mosaics, maybe if I wrote the queen she would save all of the chipped and broken china for me LOL! I am sure the breakfast menu will be huge!!!


Janie's World said...

I thought this post was FASCINATING! I loved seeing the tables capes and seeing the dishes. The facts were incredible. Thanks for sharing and all your investigative work.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Laura, I was by earlier, but I'm dropping back by for Tab. Thurs because it gives me a chance to ogle this post again.

I adore that John Flaxman candlelabra. How wonderful it is, and I also love the color of the queen's china. It is just glorious. Mr. Magpie said the other night that the English just know how to do it right.


Sheila :-)

Kristina said...

You know, I'm not a fancy person. Never have been, and probably never will be. My husband and I didn't put china on our wedding registry...we love our plane white plates.

But after reading this post, man would I love to be invited to dine at the palace. I may not be fancy, but I do appreciate pretty.

xinex said...

Wow! Elegant tables! Love the plates and crystals. Love everything!...Christine

My Little World said...

Thank you for this post- it was a delight to read.

Linda Q said...

Gorgeous post! I was born in England, so I love all that is royal. In fact I have used a couple of these photos before in a post, as they were so amazing to see.
Thanks for sharing,

Marigene said...

How opulent...I couldn't begin to imagine dining with The Queen!

Shirley said...

And I'm having troubles deciding how to decorate my new side table!!! I think I need to buy a yard stick..just in case HM comes a calling..
On a more serious elegant and beautiful this is..I'm glad there are 'Those who have it' to give the world some class..

SavannahGranny said...

All I can say is WOW!!! Thanks for sharing. Ginger

Shelia said...

Hi Laura! Oh, you've got to come over to my blog as I have a surprise for you! The Magical Bathroom Beauty Snapping Fairy sent me a picture! :)
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Susan (My Place to Yours) said...

What a gift you have given us with your wonderful royal wedding posts! Thank you, Laura.

Scribbler said...

What a beautiful informative post! I thoroughly enjoyed this.

Karie's Chic Creations said...

Laura, what an interesting post. Love the information you share with us in bloggerland. So fascinating. I also read the delightful tea you Arizona bloggers had. How fun. I wonder if the Utah blogger ever do something like that. Thanks for sharing so much. Your blog is a delight. Hugs, Karie

taio said...


Liz said...

The images are amazing! Thank you for another very informative post... The count down is approaching quickly! :)


Piorra Maison said...

great post. very educational. I enjoyed it and learnt something along the way. thanks for sharing.