The royal wedding is nearly upon us (CTV’s live coverage begins May 19 at 4 a.m. ET), which means people are speculating about everything from the dress and the wedding party to the guest list and the nuptials themselves. While that’s all fine and dandy, we’re particularly curious about what Harry and Meghan will serve their guests to eat at this fine affair — especially considering some of the lavish dishes that have been doled out at royal weddings past.
Traditionally, a royal wedding calls for a post-nuptial “breakfast,” although it’s pretty rare that actual breakfast items find their way onto the menu. It’s also tradition to include a dish or two named after the bride and groom themselves, which has led to some pretty creative dishes over the years.
Let’s take a look, shall we?
King George V and Queen Mary, July 6, 1893
In terms of lavish wedding feasts, this one certainly impressed. Even though it was only midday, there were 17 courses made available to guests, including soups, hot and cold entrees, lobster, veal and liver in jelly… because who doesn’t love a good aspic? Naturally, a three-tiered cake topped it all off.
Potages: Soup course
Bernoise à l’imperatrice (soup inspired by Queen Victoria)
Crême de riz à la Polonaise (a creamed rice soup with veggies topped with eggs and butter-fried breadcrumbs)
Entreés (Chaudes): Hot entrées
Côtelette d’Agneau à l’Italienne (lamb cutlets made in an Italian sauce)
Aiguillettes de Canetons aux Pois (duckling cutlets with peas)
Filets de boeuf à Napolitaine (beef fillets)
Entreés (Froides): Cold entrées
Poulets gras au cresson (chicken and watercress)
Mayonnaises de Volaille (chicken with lots and lots of mayo — no Miracle Whip for these royals!)
Salades d’Homard (lobster salad)
Jambon découpes à l’Aspic (ham aspic)
Langues découpes à l’Aspic (tongue aspic… yup, tongue)
Roulardes de Veau (rolled veal)
Pains de Foies à la Gelée (liver in jelly)
Haricots Verts (green beans)
Gelées et Crèmes (jello and cream)
Pâtisserie assortie (assorted pastries)
Cold Roast Fowls — this was the only item written in English, by the way.
Cake: As for the aforementioned three-tiered cake? It featured intricate decorations that included coats of arms of the bride and groom.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, April 26, 1923
This royal breakfast wasn’t 17 courses, but it didn’t exactly leave guests going hungry, either. Soups, salmon and yet another aspic, this feast was highlighted by another overgenerous wedding cake.
Consommé à la Windsor (clear soup)
Suprèmes de Saumon Reine Mary (select parts of salmon)
Côtelettes d’Agneau Prince Albert (lamb cutlets)
Chapons à la Strathmore (capons, which are essentially castrated roosters, cooked Scottish style)
Jambon et langue découpé à l’aspic (ham and tongue aspic. Because why limit yourself to one meat in an aspic?)
Salade royale (royal salad)
Asperge, sauce creme mousseuse (creamy asparagus)
Fraises Duchesse Elizabeth (strawberries and cream)
Panier de friandises (a basket of goodies)
Cake: What’s a wedding feast without a nine-foot-high cake to top it all off?
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, November 20, 1947
The wedding of then-Princess Elizabeth to then-Philip Mountbatten wasn’t quite the luxurious affair it might have been in any other decade. The country was still in rationing mode following the second world war, and even royals were tightening their belts. Still, we’d say former Royal Chef Darren McGrady did a pretty decent job.
— The Royal Chef (@DarrenMcGrady) November 20, 2017
Filet de Sole Mountbatten (sole fillet named after Philip’s family)
Perdreau en casserole (partridge in a casserole… partridge was one of few meats that weren’t being rationed at the time)
Haricots verts (green beans)
Pommes noisette (gussied up tater tots)
Salade royale (royal salad)
Bombe Glacée Princesse Elizabeth (an ice cream dish made with strawberries, a luxury item that wasn’t in season. To obtain them, the palace had to grow the fruit in a hothouse.)
Déssert (this almost always means fresh fruit for the royals)
Cake: Not only did the couple receive 12 cakes as gifts, but the official cake was extravagant and memorable. All of the ingredients were donated by the Australian Girl Guides (again, the country was rationing), and the cake came in at a show stopping four-tiers and 500 pounds. As a thank you, the couple sent an entire tier of this “10,000 Mile Wedding Cake” back to the girl guides.
Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones, May 6, 1960
Perhaps it was sibling rivalry that inspired Princess Margaret to try and outdo Queen Elizabeth with her own wedding day, making the event a much more lavish affair. What else do you call an event that featured a 60-foot floral arch, a 30-metre dress train and 20 different wedding cakes?
It’s also worthy of note that this was the first royal wedding ever televised, and a cool 300 million worldwide viewers tuned it to watch the nuptials go down live. Few of those actually got to sample the wedding breakfast fare though, as delicious as it sounds.
Filet de boeuf Princesse: (beef fillet… no rationing for this princess)
Haricots verts (green beans)
Soufflé surprise Montmorency (a savoury egg-based dish. This may be one of the most breakfast-friendly foods ever served at a royal wedding.)
Cake: If none of the other 19 cakes caught wedding-goers fancy, the main event clocked in at three tiers and 150 pounds, and stood over five-feet tall.
Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, November 14, 1973
Although Princess Anne didn’t have quite the lavish affair her aunt did, there were subtle nods to her mum’s own wedding, including partridge on the menu, that made it entirely her own.
A lobster for each guest
Partridge with fresh peas
Peppermint ice cream (despite the chill November weather)
Cake: A pastry chef from the Army Catering Corps designed the couple’s cake to stand 5-foot, 6-inches tall, which also happens to be Princess Anne’s exact height.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana, July 29, 1981
The wedding of the century was seen by millions of people, but only 120 guests were invited back to Buckingham Palace to enjoy the “intimate” wedding breakfast of chicken, dumplings and an extensive wine list.
Quenelles de barbue Cardinal (a dumpling of pureed fish with lobster sauce)
Suprême de Volaille Princesse de Gailles (chicken breast with lamb mousse stuffing)
Fèves au Beurre (buttery fava beans)
Maïs à la crème (creamed corn)
Pommes nouvelles (new potatoes)
Salade (salad, obviously)
Fraises & Crème Caillée (strawberries with Cornish — or clotted — cream. Perhaps as another homage to Charles’ mum and grandma?)
Les vins: Wines
Brauneberger Juffer Spatlese 1976
Chateau Latour 1959
Cake: The couple was gifted a whopping 27 cakes, which were then donated to various charities. As for the big one? The fruitcake was covered with white icing and stood over five-feet tall.
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, July 23, 1986
Another midday breakfast; there were some brunch-type items like an egg-and-lobster salad, but fancier fare like lamb also graced this menu.
Eggs Drumkilbo (hard-boiled eggs, lobster and tomato salad covered in mayo)
Carré d’Agneau Paloise (lamb with mint sauce)
Couronne d’Epinards aux Champignons (spinach and mushrooms)
Fèves au Beurre (buttery fava beans)
Pommes Nouvelles (new potatoes)
Fraises St. George & Crème Caillée (strawberries and clotted cream… does anyone see a pattern here?)
Les vins: Wine
Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Auslese 1976
Château Langoa Barton 1976
Cake: A traditional fruitcake was covered with marzipan and then coated with royal icing. There were 10 impressive layers, and the thing stood over 12 feet tall.
Prince William and Kate Middleton, April 29, 2011
Not only was this the first royal menu actually printed in English, but it was concocted by 21 chefs and featured 10,000 canapés paired with wine. We’re pretty confident that was enough for the 650-odd guests to fill their bellies.
Marinated South Uist salmon, Lyme Bay crab and wild Hebridean langoustines, fresh herb salad
Wine pairing: Meursault, Domaine Guyot-Javiller 2009
Saddle of North Highland Mey
Select organic lamb
Highgrove spring vegetables
Jersey Royal potatoes with sauce Windsor
Wine pairing: L’Hospitalet de Gazin, Omweol 2004
A trio of Berkshire honey ice cream (made with honey from the English country where Kate grew up), sherry trifle and chocolate parfait
Wine pairing: Laurent Perrier Rosé
Coffee and fresh mint tea
Cake: Eight tiers of fruitcake were covered in white frosting, but that wasn’t the only cake the couple cut. Prince William’s favourite dessert, a chocolate biscuit icebox cake made with nuts and tea, also graced the menu.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, May 19, 2018
The royal family released the menu of the day of, and it sounds pretty delicious if you ask us. 600 guests drawn from the Wedding Service congregation ate a selection of canapés, bowl foods as well as sweet canapés.
Scottish Langoustines wrapped in Smoked Salmon with Citrus Crème Fraiche
Grilled English Asparagus wrapped in Cumbrian Ham
Garden Pea Panna Cotta with Quail Eggs and Lemon Verbena
Heritage Tomato and Basil Tartare with Balsamic Pearls
Poached Free Range Chicken bound in a Lightly Spiced Yoghurt with Roasted Apricot
Croquette of Confit Windsor Lamb, Roasted Vegetables and Shallot Jam
Warm Asparagus Spears with Mozzarella and Sun-Blush Tomatoes
Fricassee of Free Range Chicken with Morel Mushrooms and Young Leeks
Pea and Mint Risotto with Pea Shoots, Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps
Ten Hour Slow Roasted Windsor Pork Belly with Apple Compote and Crackling
Champagne and Pistachio Macaroons
Orange Crème Brûlée Tartlets
Miniature Rhubarb Crumble Tartlets
Pol Roger Brut Réserve Non Vintage Champagne
Cake: A light sponge that features elderflower syrup made at The Queen’s residence in Sandringham. A filling made from Amalfi lemon curd and elderflower buttercream ties the cake together. Along with 150 fresh flowers, the cake is decorated with Swiss meringue buttercream.
Don’t miss CTV News’ live special Harry and Meghan: The Royal Wedding Saturday, May 19, starting at 4 a.m. ET on CTV and CTV.ca.