The secrets of Buckingham Palace’s famous banquets revealed 32



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Have you ever wanted to walk into Buckingham Palace and attend a royal banquet? Well, now you can do the next best thing: voyeuristically look at everything that goes into a feast.

It takes a whopping 10 days to prepare a state banquet (110 have already been hosted by the Queen) and includes 1,700 pieces of mismatched baroque, Rocco and neo-classic cutlery to be placed at each of the 170 table settings precisely 46 cm apart, and 1,104 glasses – six for each guest to contain water, champagne for the toast, red wine, white wine, champagne or sweet wine and port.

During the banquet, esteemed guests are treated to four courses, a starter, then meat or game followed by dessert and ripe, seasonal fruit. The Daily Mail reports chefs always try to incorporate something special from their guests’ nation, such as the sugar orchids prepared especially for the President of Singapore.

The banquet is served butler style, so diners serve the food themselves from silver-gilt platters which are presented to them on their left-hand side.

76 staff are employed for the night and they have the nerve-wracking job of placing each plate at precisely the same time.

The intricate crockery is taken from King George IV’s 4,000 piece Grand Service and at the end of the service, the porcelain is washed by hand. It then takes three weeks to pack up again.

According to Royal Collection Trust curator, Anna Reynolds, any visit to Buckingham Palace is ‘magnificent, magical and memorable’.

From today, members of the public visiting Buckingham Palace will see what it is like to attend Her Majesty’s revered events in an exhibition titled ‘A Royal Welcome’.

For the first and only time ever, visitors will be allowed to walk through the Grand Entrance, where the Queen departs and returns to the palace for ceremonial processions.

Once you walk inside, you can see the behind-the-scenes preparations for a state banquet, as well as a collection of Queen Elizabeth II’s jewellery and outfits in her dressers’ workroom.

There is a stunning pale grey silk dress embroidered with Swarovski crystals that was worn to the recent Singapore State Banquet on display, as well as the ancient sewing machine used to make it.

Perhaps on the most amazing parts of the Palace is the Queen’s wine cellar, which holds an amazing 25,000 bottles. The oldest? A bottle of sherry that dates back to 1660.

State banquets involve the customary exchange of goodwill gifts between the two countries. One of the most treasured is the Mexican clay Tree of Life sculpture presented by the President of Mexico. If you look closely you can see tiny figures of The Queen waving in a headscarf on a horse.

Ms Reynolds say she hopes the exhibition will allow visitors will enjoy knowing the ins and outs of the planning, preparation and presentation that goes in to the grandeur of a state banquet.

A Royal Welcome is open until September 27 at Buckingham Palace.


Take a look at the beautiful pics and tell us, would you like to attend?

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  1. I have been in the Palace, but not to a banquet. I worked for the Newspaper Society who were responsible for press passes to all the newspapers in London. So I only got as far as the Privy Purse office, to collect the passes for upcoming Royal events. The Queen was still Princess Elizabeth then, so it was a long time ago.

  2. I also would love to see all this. Can’t even imagine the work that happens to make sure every detail is perfect. I also am very fond of the Royals.

  3. There was a programme on TV a while ago which showed what happens when there is a banquet. It was truly amazing with so much attention to detail. I’m going to Buckingham Palace with a tour in September but don’t think it will include this. Apparently the Queen won’t be home when I am there….she must have heard I was coming, lol.

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