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England’s Obsession with Queen Victoria’s Wedding Cake England’s Obsession with Queen Victoria’s Wedding Cake Queen Victoria's wedding cake, depicted 1840 Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018 In the lead-up to a royal wedding, just about anything can become news. Take Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding cake: In March, Kensington Palace announced that it will be a lemon elderflower cake covered in buttercream that “will incorporate the bright flavours of spring.” For royal watchers, that news is sweet indeed, and the cake has already inspired everything from copycat recipes to complimentary cocktails. But why the big fuss? Victorian literature scholar Emily Allen knows the answer— the cake, like Queen Victoria’s, will be a type of culinary spectacle that reveals more about the spectators than it does about the bridal couple themselves. At the time, wedding cakes were usually single-layer fruitcakes covered in stiff white icing—the stuff of years of English tradition. But in the nineteenth century, a French invasion of sorts swept the nation’s kitchens. It became chic to eat Frenchified foods as a way of showing off wealth and good taste. What better way to display that taste than at your own wedding? Victoria’s was a wedding and a cake that was primed for public “consumption,” but made for the inaccessible upper class only. Victoria’s wedding cake, though a thoroughly English plum cake on the inside, had some French decorative flair on the outside. It weighed 300 pounds, and was fourteen inches tall and ten feet wide, “was ornamented by sculptures of Britannia, the royal pair in Roman costume, and one of Victoria’s ubiquitous canines, to suggest fidelity,” Allen writes.
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