March 1, 2012

Royal tea party: Girls’ day out for Kate, the Queen and Duchess of Cornwall (VIDEO | 33 PICS)

The Queen at Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly, with her granddaughter-in-law Kate and daughter-in law the Duchess of Cornwall, to mark the store's renovated restaurant - which has been renamed The Diamond Jubilee Tea Station to mark the queen's 60 years on the throne
They are the three most senior female royals in the land.

But as the Queen, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge popped out for spot of tea today, it was as if they were on a girls’ day out.

Laughing and smiling, the trio’s visit to London foodie haven, Fortnum and Mason, was as cheerful and relaxed as a royal engagement ever gets.

The Queen, who celebrated her Diamond Jubilee this year, looked simply delighted to be accompanied for the first time by the two women who will, one day, follow in her footsteps.

Arriving in the capital’s bustling Piccadilly, the three women – all wearing differing shades of blue with varying hemlines befitting their ages of 85, 64 and 30 - were greeted by hundreds of cheering well-wishers and the jolly sounds of a jazz band.

As they entered the department store, which was founded in 1707 and boasts more than three centuries of royal service, they viewed a display of Diamond Jubilee United Services Tins filled with tea and clotted cream ‘super digestives’ (which don’t disintegrate when dunked) which are being sent to 18,000 members of the armed forces to mark the Queen's 60 years on the throne.

VIDEO: Eating chocolate and sampling tea. The Duchess of Cambridge, the Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall enjoy a day out at Fortnum and Mason 
Sporting two daffodils on her lapel in honour of St Davids day, Kate wore a blue coat by Italian label M by Missoni and £375 shoes by Rupert Sanderson.

Kate is said to have snapped up the autumn/Winter 2010 coat for next to nothing on a shopping trip to discount centre Bicester Village a few months ago, the foreign correspondent for People magazine revealed on Twitter.

The Duchess of Cornwall opted for navy and white stripes but the Queen was the only one to wear a hat and gloves. Kate smiled broadly and chatted to London mayor Boris Johnson, who was among the dignitaries who greeted the royal guests as they arrived.

A small crowd had gathered outside including a group protesting about foie gras sales.

The store has been supporting the British military since the Napoleonic Wars, sending parcels filled with comforts from home to its troops.

The Queen at Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly, with her granddaughter-in-law Kate and daughter-in law the Duchess of Cornwall, to mark the store's renovated restaurant - which has been renamed The Diamond Jubilee Tea Station to mark the queen's 60 years on the throne
The Queen, who was wearing an eau-du-nil and gold Angela Kelly suit and hat mirroring the store’s famous colours, examined the tins with great care. 'They are very robust, aren't they?' she said, and then, spotting the industrial-strength Queen Anne tea contained within joked: 'Yes, they do like the stronger stuff, don't they.'

The group were also shown a range of Diamond Jubilee-themed products including a £6.95 pot of 'Majestic' marmalade which contains diamond shaped shredded orange peel and sprinklings of gold leaf.

The Queen appeared particularly animated as she viewed the range and laughed as she handled a tin of biscuits that played the national anthem. 'Oh how splendid,' she remarked.

On being congratulated by a member of staff about her jubilee, she replied: 'Yes, it is coming round rather quickly, isn't it?'

As she spoke Camilla and Kate followed her at a respectful distance. Prince Charles’s wife who, almost seven years in as a member of the royal family is something of an old hand at this, was confident, chatting animatedly with staff.

The Queen makes her grand entrance at the department store........followed by Camilla, then Kate and it looks as though she opted for the same blue Zara dress she wore the day after her wedding
Her new daughter-in-law, however, seemed slightly more reserved and possibly a little nervous, despite having handful of solo engagements now under her belt.

While the Queen then went to examine the store’s honey and preserves, Prince William’s wife popped over to the tea stand and appeared to loosen up a bit as she chatted with the team.

‘So how do you go about choosing which tea to sell when there are so many out there?’ she asked, adding ‘I would really like to learn to make the perfect cup of tea as when I last made a pot of tea with dried tea leaves I got it very wrong.'

After being talked through the process, she revealed: 'I like a cup of tea but it is my brother who really likes his tea as well. I will definitely tell my brother to come down here. He really does love his tea. This is so interesting.’

Kate then re-joined Camilla at the confectionery stand which was piled high with inviting chocolates and upon which a small 'tasting tray’ of sweets including delicious bite-sized crystallised rose and violet petals, pieces of fudge and jelly beans had been placed.

Camilla, looking elegant in Bruce Oldfield with a diamond leek brooch, was most chatty, asking the staff: 'So where did you learn the art of chocolate making? Do you still dip your fingers in and have a taste? Some people say they go off it after a while if they work with it.'

Kate then re-joined Camilla at the confectionery stand which was piled high with inviting chocolates and upon which a small 'tasting tray’ of sweets
She was particularly excited to meet David Burns who runs Audrey's chocolate shop in Brighton and has been supplying Fortnum's for 30 years. The Duchess revealed she visited it many times as a child when she lived nearby.

Her eyes lit up when she saw a plate of violet creams. She said: ‘I absolutely love these. I grew up on them. I have eaten these since I was a child. Is there are special receipe? Or is it a secret?’

Kate, meanwhile, was asked to try something and chose a small crystallised rose petal, which sells for £6 per 100 grams.

‘Gosh, it is very sweet,’ she said. Asked whether she liked chocolate, she giggled: ‘I love chocolate. I think all girls like chocolate. ‘ Then turning to Camilla she said: ‘You should try some of this.’

Camilla popped a jelly bean into her mouth. ‘What I really would like to try is one of those,’ she said, pointing to the violet creams ‘but we aren’t allowed to. Maybe I could pop back later and get you to make me up a box. They really are very addictive.’

Staff confirmed that they had been told only to lay out samples of non-chocolaty goodies in case they melted on the royal visitors in front of the cameras.

Kate learned more about Fortnum's famous teas while The Queen inspected honey and preserves and Camilla was taken to the bakery
Itesh patel, Departmental Specialist, chatted to Kate. He said: ‘She was lovely and couldn’t resist trying one of the crystallised rose petals.  She was keen for the Duchess of Cornwall to try one too.’

The two ladies then re-joined the Queen for a taste of high tea – albeit at 10.30 in the morning – which normally retails at the upmarket store for between £18 and £28.

More than 150 people, including former members of staff, had been invited to the tea party after which the Queen renamed the store’s restaurant the Diamond Jubilee Tea Station.


By Nicola Mowbray
Their hemlines and heel heights fall as their years advance, but the Queen and the two duchesses had one thing in common when they visited Fortnum & Mason yesterday – they were all visions in blue.

Kate navigated the tricky decision of what to wear for a day out with the in-laws with her usual aplomb, and looked impeccable alongside the Queen and Duchess of Cornwall.

She stuck to what is fast becoming her signature style, sporting a neat and simple coat dress which showed off her exceptionally well-toned legs. This one, in blue and silver, was from Italian diffusion label M by Missoni. It is thought Kate bought it more than a year ago, on a trip to the brand’s discount store at the Bicester Village outlet, for considerably less than its original £765 price tag.  

She teamed it with a pair of £375 suede heels from British designer Rupert Sanderson, and a small corsage of daffodils in honour of St David’s Day.

The Duchess of Cornwall also went for a coat dress, in navy wool crepe, by British designer Bruce Oldfield (price on application). Her shoes cost £165 from Stuart Weitzman for Russell and Bromley.

The Queen matched her outfit to Fortnum & Mason’s classic pale blue colour scheme, wearing a military-style suit and matching hat by Angela Kelly, both trimmed with gold.

They were also presented with Fortnum's hamper, containing champagne truffles and ‘hearty treats for happy hounds’ - the Queen's corgis, Camilla’s rescued Jack Russell and Kate's new cocker spaniel, Lupo.

Afterwards London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, revealed that the Queen had chatted animatedly about a new two-way traffic system in Piccadilly (‘She seemed rather excited by it, she hasn’t driven that way down Piccadilly for almost fifty years ’ he said) and the success of his ‘pay and ride’ bicycle scheme.

‘The Queen said she saw lot of empty stands as she was passing which she thought meant it must have been a success,’ he said.

He also said that Kate had thanked him for her wedding present – a tandem ‘Boris Bike’ – which she and William and have been riding around their garden.

‘They haven’t taken to the streets yet but have been practising in confined spaces,’ he said.

Kate wore a blue coat dress, the Duchess of Cornwall opted for navy blue and white stripes but the Queen was the only one to wear a hat and gloves
A source confirmed that the royal couple have been known to ‘play on it in the garden’.

Today was the first time that the Queen and the two next Queen consorts have been on an official ‘working’ engagement together. Kate will also join the Queen in Leicester next week for a royal ‘away day’ while her husband is still on deployment with the RAF in the Falklands.

1 comment:

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