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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.


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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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Makeover~ Disastrous Dress Becomes Fetching Frock

Last Saturday was our Arizona Bloggers Tea held at the English Rose Tea Room. Blogging merry makers came from far and wide to celebrate the upcoming Royal Wedding. A few weeks prior to the event I set out to find a lavender colored dress to impress H.M. the Queen.

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Alas I could find NOTHING in my desired shade. (Isn’t that the way it always works?) As you may know when I get my heart set on something I generally refuse to budge from my vision. (I think this is also referred to as being stubborn.) I found this dress on a super duper clearance rack at Marshalls. It was made of Rayon, which is a dyeable fabric. Hmmmm. It was inexpensive enough that if the dye job was a failure, it wouldn’t result in financial panic.

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Boil, boil, toil and trouble. I got out a large cooking pot, placed it on the stove and filled it with 12 cups of water. I then began sprinkling in small amounts of dye until it resulted in the desired shade which was tested in an inconspicuous area on the dress. I then put the entire dress in the lilac hued concoction and swirled it around for about 20 minutes. It was then line dried.

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I finished the look with a vintage broach in the ruffled center and wore a small fascinator. Doesn’t Ceekay look lovely in her spring straw hat?

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Here is the entire glamorous group from right to left, Ceekay, Marty, Charlotte, Julie, Sherry, Liz, Jamie, and the Fashionista.

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Sweet Charlotte took a hat that she has had in her closet for over 40 years and turned it into something special. Hats off to Charlotte for winning the award for “Best British Bonnet”.

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Liz embellished herself with a replica of Lady Diana’s engagement ring.

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The ring, coupled with her sunny yellow frock and lovely little fascinator she created just for the event made her a shoe in for the “Beautifully British” award.

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There was eye candy galore everywhere you looked in the tearoom.

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From the sweet tinned ceilings…

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…to the miniature tea sets that could be taken home for special little girls.

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Even the outdoor seating featured gorgeous vignettes.

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I adored how a rustic chandelier was transformed into lighting fit for a princess.

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Each perfect place setting featured a different china cup and plate. I brought a box of goodies for all the guests.

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Liz also created some pretty party favors fit for a Queen.

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The owner, Joanne Gemmill, who is originally from England, gave us some pointers in perfecting our British accents.

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The food was divinely delicious. There was so much that the Fashionista and I ended up taking a box of our high tea goodies home.

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Everyone had to bring a White Elephant Wedding gift to exchange. We drew numbers to see who went first (and in a twist~ also last). Jamie loved her teapot.

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I was the only one to steal from someone else. But can you blame me? Look at this lovely tea cup and plate that I enjoyed my breakfast on.

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It had such sweet violets I had to resort to theft to insure it came home with me. Thankfully the victim Julie was thrilled with her replacement prize so everyone went home happy.

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I spent Sunday in the garden planting flowers in memory of my mother who passed away one year ago. I miss her so very much and am glad that my heartache was lessened by the company of good friends.

I am having trouble with my computer so will be taking the day to fix it. I will return on Royal Wedding Wednesday.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Laura’s French Flea Market and Auction~ Antique and Vintage Linens

Thank you to everyone who participated. The auction is now over. The next one will be held on Friday, April 8th.

Some women love shoes. Others can’t pass by a jewelry store without peeking in. Me? I love the old, worn and sometimes unloved tattered remnants that tell the story of some other woman’s past. So much so that it led me to partner with Andrea in Metis Linens.

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It is rare that I ever pass by a table at a flea market that features a pile of what some would consider “dirty rags”. I bring them home and gently launder them, place them on the clothesline to dry and then carefully iron these textile treasures. This auction is for the woman who wonder’s: “What type of parties did this apron see?”

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I will soon be leaving for France where I will no doubt want to rescue other pieces of linen. The problem is that my storage space is already overflowing. So it is time to send a few things out into the world to be loved and admired by others.
You will notice on most of the posts I will provide a link to Ebay/websites of similar items being sold. I like to comparison shop and recommend it. It’s just smart business practice as it fosters goodwill.

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The Gentle Guidelines:

Please leave a bid by leaving a comment on the post of the item you desire. (Keep scrolling down to see a WHOPPING 24 separate posts of treasures offered this week.)
On Sunday the 27th the bidding will end at 2 pm (Arizona time). If you are the highest bidder, I will then contact you to arrange a PayPal payment or payment via a personal check.
Are returns accepted? Absolutely. The buyer pays for the return shipping of the item (in it’s original condition) within 7 days.
The prices listed for shipping on each item are for the 50 states. Please keep in mind that in addition to the mailing costs, I am also purchasing the shipping supplies~ tissue, envelopes, etc. All items will be sent out carefully packaged.
If you live in Canada or Europe I can happily send you the merchandise, but the shipping will of course run a bit more.  I absolutely will combine shipping if you purchase more than one item.
The comments have been turned off on this post so that you can continue scrolling down. Please only comment if you are bidding. Thank you!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Royal Wedding Wednesdays ~ A History of Wedding Dresses ~ Part II

I received several emails in reference to last week’s post “A History of Wedding Dresses ~Part I” . Thoughts ranged from “How could I not include Sarah Ferguson?”  Or “Why was the loveliest Royal bride of all ~ Princess Grace ~ not included?”  As to the first question, I only covered the brides (with the exception of Diana) who were or later became the Queen of England. As to Princess Grace ~ several of you have expressed sadness that R.W.W. will end in April. Really? Darn. I had planned on writing several posts covering Monaco and the upcoming nuptials of Prince Albert on July 22, 2011 ~ as well as the wedding of Queen Elizabeth’s eldest granddaughter, Zara Phillips, on July 30, 2011.

Zara Phillips spends a moment Tuesday with grandmother Queen Elizabeth II in the Parade Ring.

Zara’s mother, Princess Royal Anne married Capt. Mark Phillips on November 14, 1973. I have to say I absolutely loved the dreamy ethereal quality of their official engagement portrait and her embossed organza dress.

Princess Anne’s wedding dress was a medieval Tudor style designed by  Maureen Baker. The dress was made of white silk and featured a high collar and large trumpet sleeves.

Princess Anne of Great Britain wears a modest high-neck wedding dress

The neckline and shoulders were embroidered with pearls and silver thread. The long silk gauze train featured a design of flowers also enhanced with silver thread. Her veil was held in place by the Fringe tiara~ which was the tiara her mother, Queen Elizabeth, wore at her own wedding. 

Her page boy was her younger brother, Prince Edward. Her bridesmaid was Lady Sarah Armstrong ~ Jones, the daughter of Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth’s sister.

Princess Anne's son, Peter Phillips, married Autumn Kelly on May 17, 2008 at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. The bride wore a ivory duchesse satin wedding gown designed by Sassi Holford. The strapless dress was topped with a lace bolero jacket. 

Her dress had a train that was a bit over two meters (6 feet) long and topped by a bow and a row of covered buttons. The tulle veil was held in place by a tiara on loan from her mother in law, Princess Anne.

Princess Margaret wed Lord Snowdon on May 6, 1963. It was the first Royal wedding to ever be televised. She wore a dress made of white silk organza. It was designed by Norman Hartnell who had also created her sister, Queen Elizabeth’s, bridal gown. It featured an elegantly high neckline and a fitted bodice.

The dress was free of any beading or embroidery and the full skirt incorporated a short train.

Her veil was made by Claude St Cyr of Paris.  It featured satin trim to match the dress and was held in place by the Poltimore Tiara.

Princess Margaret’s son, David Armstrong~Jones, Viscount Linley married Serena Stanhope on October 8, 1993 at St. Margaret’s church. The bride’s dress was designed by Bruce Robbins and reminiscent of her mother in law’s dress. It  featured a fitted satin “V” necked coat that buttoned down the front and split at the waist. The tulle skirt was topped with a large bow on the back of the jacket.  The train was about two meters (6 feet) long.

Serena borrowed the Papyrus Tiara from her mother in law. The tiara was originally purchased at Garrad’s by Queen Mary who then gave it to the Queen Mum, Elizabeth, who passed it on to Princess Margaret.

Princess Margaret’s daughter, Lady Sarah, is actually one of my favorite Royal brides. Many remember her as Lady Diana’s eldest bridesmaid. For her wedding to Daniel Chatto, Lady Sarah chose a gown by Jasper Conran. It had long sleeves, a low square neckline and a crushed bodice.

The tulle veil was held in place by a diamond floral tiara. The tiara can also be broken into smaller broaches. It was a wedding gift to Lady Sarah’s mother, Princess Margaret, from her groom (and Lady Sarah’s father) Lord Snowdon.


When Sarah Ferguson married Prince Andrew, Duke of York on July 23, 1986 she chose Lindka Cierach to create her wedding gown. The dress was made of ivory duchesse satin and featured a scoop neck, a fitted bodice, full skirt and padded shoulders accented with bows. The 17 foot long train fell from the skirt from a large bow and was lavishly detailed with intricate embroidery. The design had very personal meaning as it included Sarah's personal coat of arms, an “A” for Andrew, as well as an anchor to represent the groom’s naval career.

In one of my most favorite Royal Wedding details, upon entering the church, the bride's silk tulle veil was attached to a perfumed coronet of roses, gardenias and lilies of the valley.


At the end of the ceremony the floral wreath was removed to reveal a diamond tiara symbolizing her transformation from commoner to royal bride.

Sophie Rhys-Jones wore a sleek ivory silk and organza dress topped with a matching coat to her wedding to Prince Andrew on June 19, 1999.  The dress, designed by Samantha Shaw, featured 325,000 cut glass and pearl beads.

The bride’s hand dyed, silk tulle veil was one inch longer than her train.  It was hand finished with crystals. It was held in place by a diamond tiara on loan from the Queen.

Her jewelry include a black and white pearl necklace, interspersed with white gold rondelle’s and matching earrings. The set was designed by Prince Edward as a gift to his bride and made by Asprey and Garrard.

I imagine that if one is to write a history of Royal wedding dresses, the “Wallis blue” confection that Mrs. Simpson wore on June 3, 1937 to marry King David, a man who abdicated the throne of England for her, must be included. She of course became the Duchess of Windsor but was forever denied HRH (Her Royal Highness) status.

The full length gown and long sleeved jacket was constructed of silk crepe. It featured a tightly cinched waist enhanced with covered buttons.  A jeweled brooch was worn at her neck and a hat adorned with pink and blue feathers was the only crown she ever wore.

The Duke of Windsor had three younger brothers ~ Albert, Queen Elizabeth’s father, who became King George VI,  Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, Prince George, Duke of Kent and  Prince John  who passed away at the age of 13. On November 29, 1934 at Westminster Abbey Prince George married Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark . She wore a cowl necked gown made of silver and white lamé with a raised "Rose of England" pattern. Her necklace was a gift from the groom and featured 36 large diamonds.

One of her bridesmaids (lower left) was then Princess Elizabeth. It was said that Princess Marina was the true beauty of the Royal family.

I have my own favorite true beauty and thus saved her for last. Lady Alice Christabel Montagu Douglas Scott married Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester on November 6, 1935  in the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace. A much more elaborate affair had been planned, but was scaled back due to the recent passing of the bride’s father and ill health of the groom’s father, King George V. Her dress was designed by Norman Hartnell, who also created Queen Elizabeth’s and Princess Margaret’s wedding gowns.

The dress was made of silk crepe in a blush color. Her stunning bouquet was created by Constance Spry who also did the arrangements for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s wedding.  Her cathedral length veil (exact measurements unknown) was held in place by an elegant tiara.

Princess Alice remained dedicated to public service her entire life. During WW II she worked with the Red Cross and became head of the Women’s Auxiliary Force in 1940. She passed away at the age of 102 becoming the longest living person in the history of the British Royal Family. Beautiful.

What shall we talk about next~ bouquets, cakes, or wedding receptions?


Please join me here on Friday for an auction featuring vintage and antique linens.