The secret menu for the royal wedding

Lewis Whyld/PA Wire/Getty Images

One of the biggest decisions to be made when planning any wedding is what to serve the guests at the reception. And no doubt the same dilemma faces this year’s most celebrated couple, Prince William and Kate Middleton.

At the marriage in 1923 of the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother), the wedding breakfast comprised “Consommé à la Windsor, Suprèmes de Saumon Reine Mary, Côtelettes d’Agneau Prince Albert, Chapons à la Strathmore, and Fraises Duchesse Elizabeth”. (The term “breakfast” when related to a wedding is the standard name for a meal after the ceremony, whatever time of day it is served).

When the Queen, then the Princess Elizabeth, married Prince Philip, on 10 July 1947, the menu was again in French and comprised Filet de Sole Mountbatten; Perdreau en Casserole, Haricots Verts, Pommes Noisette and Salade Royale; Bombe Glacee Princesse Elizabeth; Friandises; Dessert. (translation below).

What’s being prepared this time?

650 royal wedding guests who have been invited to Buckingham Palace for the reception after the royal wedding next week shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about which fork to pick up for the fish course. That’s because they are probably not going to be served any courses at all.

At the lunchtime reception, Queen Elizabeth is expected to lay out a modest spread of Champagne, wedding cake and two-bite appetizers, or canapes. While the kebab shops close to Buckingham Palace may welcome post-reception drop-ins from hungry alcohol-fueled guests, others have wondered at the decision to welcome diplomats and heads of state with finger food.

The families of Prince William and Kate Middleton are balancing more than the wedding planning politics that plague every engaged couple. Diplomatic advisers and former palace employees say the decision not to serve a sit-down meal is driven by protocol, by palace-kitchen logistics and perhaps by concerns about how the public would view royals who feast during a time of lingering economic pain. Factor in the preferences of a lithe bride and groom who don’t appear to lie awake at night worrying that guests will starve, and canapes may be just fine.

“The palace is not geared to do a sit-down meal or huge buffet for 600 or 700 people,” Mr. McGrady said.

Canapes are often served at diplomatic receptions, proffered from trays by footmen. They are designed to be eaten in two bites, which can be handy should a guest need to put one away in order to greet a passing dignitary.

Mr. McGrady expects the palace chefs to make 10,000 appetizers for the reception, or 15 canapes for each guest. The palace typically makes eight kinds of canapes, five cold and three hot. Specialties include smoked salmon, herbed crepes, Cornish pasties and English sausage rolls. Guests at past affairs have accompanied those nibbles with Champagne, wine or a sparkling lemonade made with Epsom salts that is a favorite at the palace.

“There’s no heavy, substantial food,” Mr. McGrady said. “It’s more sort of being there, than you’re coming back for a fantastic meal.”

Serving canapes also absolves the queen of following the elaborate protocol that goes into a palace seating chart.

Prince Charles will not have to worry about the pecking order that evening, when he will host a three-course dinner for 300 guests at Buckingham Palace, which The Daily Mail reported will be catered by the London restaurateur Anton Mosimann. The palace and the restaurant would not confirm these reports.

The Queen’s head chef Mark Flanagan and his 21 staff are determined to ensure every mouth-watering morsel is perfect for the future king and his bride.

Mark, who has previously worked for Michel and Albert Roux and Raymond Blanc, said yesterday: “We always concentrate on showing off the very best of British produce.

“We want people to go away saying, ‘Wow – that was amazing!”

The menu is a closely-guarded secret and still open to change.

But canapes are likely to include smoked salmon on a beetroot blini, confit duck-leg terrine with smoked duck and pear chutney, quails eggs with celery salt and Ragstone goats cheese with caramelised walnuts and parmesan crisp.

Sweets may range from dark, milk and white truffles and blood orange pate de fruit to raspberry financiers – a kind of almond sponge cake.

Menu translation:

Consommé à la Windsor – Windsor Consommé (a consommé is a type of soup)

Suprèmes de Saumon Reine Mary – Queen Mary salmon filets

Côtelettes d’Agneau Prince Albert – Prince Albert Lamb cutlets

Chapons à la Strathmore – Strathmore style capons (a type of chicken)

Fraises Duchesse Elizabeth – Duchess Elizabeth Strawberries

Filet de Sole Mountbatten – Mountbatten Sole filet

Perdreau en Casserole – Partridge in a casserole.

Haricots Verts – Green beans

Pommes Noisette – a type of mashed potatoes

Salade Royale – Royal Salad

Bombe Glacee Princesse Elizabeth – Princess Elizabeth ice cream.

Friandises – Delicacies


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