The christening photos of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge are out, and they are adorable mementos of a happy day of tradition and faith, followed, appropriately, by a tea reception. The little princess was christened on Sunday, July 5th, and officially named Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge, at St. Mary Magdalene Church at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, where the baby’s parents, William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have their family residence, Anmer Hall. While the path through the estate’s woodland to the church from Anmer Hall was lined with well-wishers, inside the church only family was allowed, including Charlotte’s great-grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, her grandparents Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Mr. and Mrs. Middleton, her aunt and uncle, Pippa and James Middleton, and her five godparents and their spouses. Her uncle Prince Harry was in Africa and unable to attend.
Princess Charlotte was christened using the historic Lily Font, originally commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1840 for the christening of her first child, Victoria, the Princess Royal, and taken from its secure display with the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London for the occasion. In her photos, Princess Charlotte is wearing the same christening gown that her brother, Prince George, and her cousin James, Viscount Severn, wore at their christenings: a replica of the christening gown made in 1841 for Queen Victoria’s eldest child, Princess Victoria, which had been worn by every royal baby at his or her christening for 172 years. The replica was made by Angela Kelly, the Queen’s personal assistant and dresser, from Honiton lace and white silk satin, and was dyed with tea to make it look identical to the antique original.
After the ceremony, the Queen, Prince Philip, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge hosted a private afternoon tea party at Sandringham House, for the Royal Family, the Middleton family, and the godparents, where cake from William and Catherine’s wedding was served with pots of tea, according to tradition. The brandy-soaked fruit cake originally had 8 tiers, and was decorated with white fondant and ivory fondant flowers; one tier was saved back to be a “christening cake”, part of which was served with champagne after Prince George’s christening. Sandwiches might also have been served, although an official menu has not been released. Despite trying to run away through the churchyard before the service, it is reported that Prince George was very well-behaved in front of the Queen!
As a Royal property, Sandringham Estate is open to the public when the Queen is not in residence, and there are a few restaurants there, where the public can eat, including afternoon tea, with food made using produce grown on the estate. The Sandringham Restaurants summer menu includes Gammon Ham Salad with Nanny’s Chutney, Chicken Salad, Raspberry Bakewell Tart, and Summer Berry Meringue, all dishes which would taste delicious with a cup of tea. The Classic Afternoon Tea menu at Sandringham’s Terrace Coffee Shop and Stables Tea Room includes Homemade Scones with preserves and clotted cream, and the Sandringham High Tea menu adds a selection of Freshly Cut Sandwiches, and a selection of Homemade Cakes and Scones, all served with Sandringham’s own Traditional Breakfast Blend Leaf Tea.
If you would like to have an afternoon tea in the same manner at home, here are some suggestions. Former Royal Chef, Darren McGrady, speculated that the guests would be served their tea and cake on one of the antique hand-painted Meissen dining sets at Sandringham House. He also revealed the Queen’s usual afternoon tea menu, including cucumber, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise and/or ham sandwiches, jam sandwiches, which Chef McGrady called “jam pennies” and said they were a favorite with the Queen, both plain and dried fruit scones, served with butter and strawberry jam. Possibly also on the menu: chocolate biscuit cake – a favorite of Prince William – a lemon curd sponge or honey and cream sponge cake, jam tarts, or Madeleines. Chef McGrady stated that the guests would be served either Earl Grey, Darjeeling, or Lapsang Souchong tea. Look to your own tea party pantry for the ingredients for some of these delicious treats!
Copyright 2015, Elizabeth Urbach.
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For more information:
“Kate Middleton gives Princess Charlotte a Royal stroller ride to christening” by Elise Sole for Yahoo News.
“Do come for tea after the christening” by Rebecca English from The Daily Mail
“Jam Tarts and Earl Grey: inside Princess Charlotte’s Downtown Abbey Christening Tea” by Simon Perry for People Magazine
Sandringham Estate web page
Afternoon Tea at Sandringham Estate
Terrace Coffee Shop and Stables Tea Room at Sandringham
“Tea, preserves and flower arranging: Kate could be joining the Women’s Institute on Sandringham Estate”
“What the royals eat at home” by Rachel Cook, for The Observer
“Will & Kate’s Royal Wedding Cake Recipe” from Tea & Sympathy blog
Cup and saucer from a Chinese porcelain dinner service, painted with characters denoting ‘Double Joy’, given to Queen Elizabeth II as a wedding gift in 1947
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