Bubble and squeak, smoked-haddock fish cakes, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding sounds more like dinner with Jaime Oliver than with the newly minted duke and duchess of Cambridge. But in keeping with the overarching narrative of this royal wedding, where everything from Kate’s dress to the ceremony has been steeped in tradition, British patriotism reigned supreme at the afternoon reception that immediately followed the newlyweds’ two pecks. At the reception, hosted by the Queen, at least 10,000 canapés in 24 varieties—prepared for the 650 guests by 21 chefs led by royal chef Mark Flanagan—were topped with ingredients showcasing the bounty of Britain’s produce. That’s 16 canapés per guest, for those keeping score.
The bubble and squeak (a hash made from leftovers of a roast-beef dinner) was topped with confit of lamb shoulder, the lamb raised at the Queen’s own Windsor estate; the goat cheese stuffed into the roulades was sourced from Britain-based cheesemonger Paxton and Whitfield; and the smoked haddock for the fish cakes, crowned with pea guacamole, arrived from the east coast of Scotland. Even the organic celery salt dusting the quail eggs was made in Wales. In fact, nearly all the canapés’ ingredients were sourced from the royal realm, including English asparagus, rhubarb and crayfish, duck from Gressingham, langoustines from the northwest coast of Scotland and pork from the Cotswolds.
To wash it down, only French bubbly, of course, would do, specifically Pol Roger reserve. For those who didn’t fancy champagne—including both Prince Charles and his father Philip—a selection of other soft and alcoholic drinks were available. The guests sashayed through 19 state rooms echoing with music by Claire Jones, the official harpist, and nibbled on the canapés buffet-style. After all, even the Queen doesn’t own a table fit for 650.
In the Picture Gallery, surrounded by Rembrandts and Rubenses, was the eight-tiered wedding cake that took pastry chef Fiona Cairns and her team five weeks to finish. Following Victorian tradition, 17 boozy fruitcakes were decorated with cream and white icing and some 900 intricate flowers and fauna, carefully chosen by the duchess of Cambridge for their symbolic significance (the couple’s newly designed insignia appeared in icing, too). There was also a sweet specifically requested by William: a three-tiered chocolate-biscuit cake, made by McVitie’s Cake Co. and based on a royal family recipe.
Although as many as two billion people tuned in to watch Kate walk down Westminster Abbey’s red-carpeted aisle, only the 300 guests invited to the palace dinner and dance hosted by Prince Charles will be privy to the details of that affair. Luckily for the inquisitive, though, some guests are talking. The Daily Telegraph reported that Swiss chef Anton Mosimann catered the meal that, unsurprisingly, highlighted British fare. Dinner began after cocktails, with crab from Wales followed by a main course of lamb fillet from Highgrove prepared three ways, and ended with a trio of sweets—trifle, chocolate fondant and ice cream in brandy-snap baskets. The wine was “stunningly good.” Prince Charles, after all, is a famously generous host; “his guests,” Brian Hoey wrote in At Home with the Queen, “enjoy the delights of one of the finest tables and cellars in the country.”
One guest described the post-dinner celebrations as “simply magical—the best party ever imaginable.” Not surprising, considering veteran party planner Prince Harry organized and emceed the event. It began on a tender note, with William and Harry both mentioning in their speeches that their mother would have really enjoyed being there. The best man eventually brought down the house. Harry “was so unbelievably funny,” one guest reported, “that by the end of it he had most of the room crying with laughter.” But the party really got going around 11:30 p.m. Guests were ushered into the Throne Room, which had been transformed into “a massive nightclub,” where they danced until the wee hours, even Camilla. And at 2 a.m., guests were offered bacon butties—greasy bacon sandwiches known for being the perfect hangover cure. Even a royal one.