Sunday, July 31, 2011

British Royal Dining... the Tidbits and Odd Facts

So maybe you'd like to dine like the royal family?  Or possibly attend a dinner at one of their many palaces?  Maybe you dine royally while day dreaming.
  If by chance there is ever an opportunity for you to go to dinner with HRH at the palace, here are a few things you may find interesting...  The silver service (aka "The Grand Service") is so large, and so complete with every type of utensil imaginable, it takes eight (yes... eight) palace employees at least three weeks to get ready for setting on the tables.  Though the Grand Service is kept by the Yeoman of the Silver Pantry (that is the actual title) in a controlled atmosphere, each piece still needs to be washed, shined and polished to perfection prior to a State Dinner.

Don't think about asking the Queen to "Please pass the salt."  She has her own salt dip, or salt cellar, and it is not part of the 2,000 plus silver pieces used for a State Dinner. The Queen's is a salt dip that was made by Nicholas Clausen in 1721. 
Page from a the book,"For the Royal Table: Dining at the Palace"

   All of this comes from a wonderful book entitled "For the Royal Table: Dining at the Palace" and was created by "The Royal Collection" in Great Britain.  It includes historic menus, royal traditions, the silver, the crystal, the china... everything the royal family has used for the past 500 years.  

From the Royal Collection website, in 2008 announcing the publication of the book there is this..."The style of dining has changed considerably over the centuries, as can been seen from the elaborate menus and recipes from past royal banquets. At a lavish dinner given by Charles II for the Garter Knights at Windsor Castle in 1671, guests were served 145 dishes during the first course, and the catering included 16 barrels of oysters, 2,150 poultry, 1,500 crayfish, 6,000 asparagus stalks and 22 gallons of strawberries." and much more.

The book shows the finger bowls set out for the dessert or fruit course.
Menu for the Wedding Breakfast of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1923
The table gets white glove treatment.
And the white "booty" treatment too!

Here is more from "The Royal Collection" website: "Contemporary photographs show how Royal Household staff, including chefs, footmen, pages, florists and housemaids, guarantee the highest standards of presentation at a State Banquet.   The laying of the table begins two days before the dinner, and each place-setting measures exactly 45cm (18in) across.  During the meal, a system of ‘traffic lights’ keeps the team of footmen and pages synchronised; a blue light communicates ‘stand by’ and an amber light signals ‘serve the food’.  Each guest has six glasses (one each for red wine, white wine, water and port, and two for champagne – one for the toast and one for the pudding course).  A diagram of the arrangement of the glasses guides those who are unfamiliar with the sequence of service.

From the Royal Photograph Collection is a charming series of portraits of Queen Victoria’s footmen and pages, many of whom had started in royal service under her uncle, William IV.  Serving food in a royal palace presented particular challenges. Staff were instructed that ‘trays must be kept level so that there is no spilling of gravy or sauces’.  At Windsor Castle every dish had  to  be  carried  up  narrow  stairs from  the Great Kitchen to  the State Apartments.  The chefs always made twenty extra dishes for each course in case of a disaster.  Following the devastating fire of 1992, the restoration of the Castle included a complete refitting of the kitchen quarters, adding lifts to deliver the food.  Royal Household staff still prepare food in the Great Kitchen, the oldest working kitchen in England, where traditional copper pots from reign of George IV stand alongside high-tech catering equipment."

The book is a great read for anyone following the Royal Family or who is interested in history.

Friday, July 29, 2011

On HRH Queen Elizabeth's visit to the West Coast in 1983... "the sound of one hand clapping. Her hands never touch."

Several weeks back, my copy of The Hollywood Reporter arrived and I read of how all Tinseltown was abuzz with the upcoming visit by the Duke & Duchess. In the back of the magazine however, there was a nifty article about the visit by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip back in February of 1983. An event that The Hollywood Reporter covered at the time.

The glitterati they met was breathlessly listed... Rod Stewart! Frank Sinatra! Joan Collins! Jimmy Stewart! Lucille Ball! Fred Astaire! George Burns!

... along with what Chasen's served; "The dinner menu included: Papaya with Bay Shrimp, Chicken Pot Pie, Fresh Spinach with Bacon and a Toasted Coconut Snowball." A truly odd assortment, to be sure.
Queen Elizabeth II meeting Hollywood luminaries in February of 1983

One of the more humorous quotes came from the magazine at that time, "... one guest described the queen applauding as 'the sound of one hand clapping. Her hands never touch.'" 

But what really had me giggling was the story about Bette Davis and the issue of her not being issued an invitation; "And, of course, in the entitlement department, the royals had nothing on Old Hollywood. Barbara Davis recalls that her late husband, Marvin – who bought Fox in 1981 and hosted the event – was deluged by requests to attend. One came from Bette Davis, who asked why she hadn't received an invitation. The studio owner told her the event was "full up." She replied, "I want a f----ing invitation." Somehow it was arranged, and at the dinner, the actress shook hands with the studio owner on the receiving line and said, "I'm so glad I was able to change my plans so I could attend."  

Jennifer Lopez immediately comes to mind as I read this story again now. According to actress Mary Louise Parker, when asked if she'd met the royal couple at the recent Hollywood BAFTA event, she responded, "I didn't meet them. I was shoved out of the way by Jennifer Lopez. Uh oh, I shouldn't have said that." I guess that green dress Ms. Lopez wore to the event was not the only thing deemed inappropriate about her behavior that evening!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Becoming a Queen in Europe ~ The Dutch "Enthrone" Queens, While the British "Crown" Queens

Did you know... 
The Dutch "Enthrone" Queens, but the British "Crown" their Queens?  

   An odd bit of trivia, to be sure. But as I have an affinity for Dutch silver designs, I thought I'd mention it after seeing this rare photo.  It was taken in 1895 of the young Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and Queen Victoria of Great Britain. At the time, they were the only female monarchs in Europe.

Blogger Buzz: Blogger integrates with Amazon Associates

Blogger Buzz: Blogger integrates with Amazon Associates

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Duchess of Queensberry and How is Her Dutchess Like a Teaspoon?

      The Duchess of Queensberry, Catherine Douglas

There is quite a bit of history at the Royal College of Physicians in England.  After all, it was founded in 1518 by a charter granted by King Henry VIII, so it has been in business for quite some time.  

The teaspoon in question, or a "Dutchess" if you will, is from a collection of medical artifacts at the college.  Medical artifacts collected by the late Dr. Cecil Symons (1921–1987) and his wife Jean.   Dr. Symons was a cardiologist with a curiosity about Georgian Era medicinal spoons, among other things.  He and his wife Jean didn't simply buy items for their historical significance, many were bought because they simply liked the pieces and found them interesting.  I have found most collectors to buy items for the same reason. 

 According to Jean Symons in her article, "A duchess, a physician and a spoon", Symons writes, "The development of the medicine spoon in the Georgian era and particularly whether it preceded the teaspoon - or vice versa - was of particular interest.  In 1979 a spoon came up for auction inscribed: 'Gift of the Dutchess of Queensberry to Lady Carbery'. Why did she give a spoon in a shagreen case? Was it for medicine or tea? She was known to have a deep interest in potions, tissanes and balsamic draughts and to have made them for her friends. A dose of medicine became known as 'a teaspoonful' and it is interesting that that the modern 5ml plastic medicine measure has exactly the same capacity as the duchess'Carberry'ry of 1755."

'Gift of the Dutchess of Queensberry to Lady Carberry'    
Just as today, tea at that time was promoted by many as having medicinal benefits. In fact, according to Symons, the Dutchess of Queensberry had given away many such spoons as gifts, along with the "medicines" she had made.  So many were given away in fact, that a teaspoon soon came to be known as "a Dutchess". 
‘A Dutchess’ (c. 1755), engraved on a similar spoon in the Symons Collection made by Thomas and William Chawner in London and a silver medicine spoon and case (c.1755) inscribed 'Gift of the Dutchess of Queensberry to Lady Carberry' .

    Notes Symons, "A dose of medicine became known as ‘a teaspoonful’ and the modern plastic medicine spoon, still called a teaspoon, has an identical 5 ml capacity to the duchess’s silver spoon, which further suggests it may have been used as a medicine spoon."  So there you have it...   A dutchess is just like a teaspoon!  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Who Sat Where with The Duke and Duchess in Hollywood?

 After looking over my Australian seating chart from 1934, and reading up on so many royal dinners, I got to wondering...

Who Sat Where with The Duke and Duchess in Hollywood?

Will the seating charts for the BAFTA dinner and charity event ever wind up framed somewhere?  Probably not, as most likely the chart was all done electronically and is on someone's computer.  

Seeing the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge was an event few celebrities wanted to miss.  The Hollywood Reporter provided at least one table's seating arrangement.  That of the "Head Table"! 

Thank you Hollywood Reporter... I always knew my subscription to you would be worthwhile!

The Duke and his Duchess, William and Kate attended the star-studded BAFTA gala.  Prince William, BAFTA’s president, introduced forty-two emerging actors, producers, writers and even video game designers to Hollywood's elite.
The Duke and his Duchess arrive in style to the BAFTA event.

Actually there were far fewer celebrities sitting at the table with the Duke and Duchess than I would have imagined.  Of course, many feel Barbra Streisand to be "Hollywood Royalty" so seeing her name was not a surprise to me.  

I did note that husbands and wives were seated together.  That generally has been frowned upon so that others at the table do not feel left out of conversations.  

All things considered though, I think it was a good grouping.  Cheers!

         Royal Seating Chart for the BAFTA Event

Summer Etiquette Classes for All Ages at Historic Graber Olive House

Friday, July 15, 2011

State Dinner for the Duke of Gloucester, Australia 1934 and a Connection to Helena Bonham Carter

   Here are new, and much clearer, photos of some names from the seating chart for the dinner in honor of the Duke of Gloucester, Australia 1934 of a previous post.  

Note the "Capt. S.S. Bonham Carter".  Later "Admiral Sir Stuart Bonham Carter", he had served in the Royal Navy in both World Wars and rose to the rank of Vice Admiral.  He was a distant relative of actress Helena Bonham Carter.  

Seated at 2. Capt. S. S. Bonham Carter


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Duke and Duchess, A Fashion Icon and a "What Was She Thinking?!?"

Now first let me start by saying that I do not wish to publicly get into debates about the behavior of anyone, unless I am asked by the person who's behavior is in question.  Okay, okay... aside from Casey Anthony. I will most likely be spewing my feelings about her until I draw my last breath, but I digress.  Back to the subjects at hand.  

With our royal visit here in the southland only a few days passed, I have gotten numerous emails including one from across the pond asking for my thoughts about Lu Parker "handling" the visiting Duchess, (aka the world's newly dubbed "Fashion Icon").  

When I first saw the photo myself, I was taken aback.  I was looking at it on my phone, so I went to my desktop computer to make sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me.  Yep... Ms. Parker had her arm around her waist, not unlike what one commenter described as, a tourist getting a photo taken with "Mickey Mouse or The Little Mermaid at Disneyland".
L.A.'s Mayor, Lu Parker, The Duchess & the Duke

For those of you who have no clue as to who Ms. Parker is, she is a local newswoman in Los Angeles.  To be fair, a lot of people get excited about meeting celebrities and want to appear as if they are the best of friends in photos.  This was neither the time or the place for it, and one would think she would have known better. 

Americans are looked upon as so informal and it translates many times into "disrespectful' (Mrs. Obama hugging the Queen?) But I am going to give Ms. Parker a pass on this one.  Why?  Who knows... maybe the champagne at the star-studded reception was flowing freely.  Add champagne and an empty stomach, to a photo op with real life royals and one can start enjoying things a bit too much.  Then again, maybe she though no one would notice.  Either way, I am in a forgiving mood this evening.  Well, forgiving of everyone but Casey Anthony.