FIT FOR A KING
King Henry Tudor, lucky chap, had numerous opportunities to enjoy a wedding banquet. Historically, a wedding feast was the monarch’s opportunity to display his wealth and power, and Henry was no exception. His first wedding to Catherine of Aragon in 1509 was followed by a three-day-long feast, whose centerpiece was a swan, stuffed with a lark, stuffed with a sparrow. Grand feasts of this era typically featured an array of impressive meat dishes, which might include a boar’s head, roasted peacock and whale meat. This was washed down with much wine and ale.
A few centuries later saw the Victorians, whose wedding banquets were equally grand. Victoria and Albert famously had several wedding cakes, one of which weighed a sizeable three hundred pounds. This extravagance continued in the weddings of their many children. After Victoria’s initial disapproval, the wedding of Prince Alfred and the Grand Duchess Marie of Russia took place in 1874. It was a particularly lavish affair, being the Queen’s first public banquet since the death of her husband in 1861. The impressive menu included turtle soup, chicken breasts with truffles and roast quail. There was also a buffet laid out for those who were still peckish.
Equally decadent was the food of the 1947 wedding banquet of our current Queen and Prince Philip. Their menu consisted of Anglo-French dishes which were named after them, including a layered ice-cream bombe ‘Princess Elizabeth’. Their wedding cake, nine feet high and constructed of four tiers, was created with the intention of reaching out to the commonwealth, and as such used ingredients from around the world, including some given by the Australian girl guides. After the wedding, pieces were distributed all over the country.
Moving on a few decades, we come to the retro vision of Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981. Like their predecessors, their wedding menu was typical of its decade. It included chicken stuffed with lamb mousse, creamed sweetcorn, quenelles with lobster sauce, and strawberries with clotted cream. The couple also commissioned twenty-seven wedding cakes. The official cake was baked by the Royal Cooking School’s head baker David Avery. It is reported that it took fourteen weeks to make, and that its bottom layer alone took twelve hours to bake.
Courtesy of The Good Food Guide Magazine.