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Why Prince William, Kate Middleton are Serving 7-Year-Old Cake at Prince Louis' Royal Christening

Here’s a refresher on a bizarre royal cake tradition that will leave many a hygienist clawing for breath.

Rakhi Bose |

Updated:July 10, 2018, 9:52 AM IST
Why Prince William, Kate Middleton are Serving 7-Year-Old Cake at Prince Louis' Royal Christening
Prince William and Kate Middleton leave St Mary's Hospital with their new baby boy, Prince Louis, in London. (REUTERS/Henry Nicholls)
What is it with the British royalty and cakes?

UK is celebrating the christening of its youngest royal, Louis, the son of Prince Harry and Kate Middleton, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. And to the surprise of no-one, there is cake.

But what is surprising (and kind of icky) is the age of the cake. The cake, which will be served to guests in a special ceremony after the christening, is seven years old.

But why are the royals eating old cake?

The cake to be served at Louis Arthur Charles’s christening comes from one of the tiers of the same cake served at Prince William and Kate’s wedding in 2011.

If that disgusts the reader’s subtle tastes, here’s a refresher on a bizarre royal cake tradition that will leave many a hygienist clawing for breath.

The British monarchs traditionally save the top tier of their wedding cake for posterity. The preserved pieces of cake are used eaten later at the couple’s first anniversary or their child’s baptism (or in this case christening).

Traditionally, nuptial cakes for British royals were fruit cakes. In later years, as the wedding cake acquired and lost tires as per the country’s economic condition, only the top tier of the cake came to be made of fruitcake. This was the tier that was preserved and pieces of decades-old ancillary fruitcake, dressed in alcohol (which acts as the natural preservative) can still be found in the homes of collectors.

In fact, boxed souvenir cakes are all the rage in the UK and internationally with many pieces being auctioned off at outrageous prices, considering the item for sale is a probably the old relic of a barely edible cake.

The custom of serving old wedding cake to people probably gained prominence in the 17th century when pieces of fruit cake without icing were packed off in parcels and sent home with wedding guests. The return-gifts were called ‘groom’s cake’.

In later years, the custom of giving boxed cake as souvenirs grew and many a times the cakes also came with notes and bits of local lore. It was said that unmarried people could sleep with pieces of the cake under their pillow to be able to find the love of their life.

But while the idea of old cake crumbs in bed disturbingly infiltrates the sinews of the readers’ psyche, here’s some more dope on cakes stuck-in-time.

In 1998, a slice of wedding cake from the nuptials of Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor sold for $29,900.

William and Kate’s wedding cake was made out of 17 individual fruit cakes and had eight tiers.

In May, five slices from five royal weddings, including one from William and Kate’s wedding, went up for auction in Las Vegas’s Julien Auctions. Thankfully, the cakes were declared un-edible as they all the pieces came out of the saved freezers of guests who had attended the weddings and had been holding on to the royal piece.

The tradition of preserving cakes may be coming to an end after all. The latest royal couple to tie the knot, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, chose to ditch the stoic fruitcake for the more decadent buttercream extravagance.

The lemon-elderflower cake (yes, elderflower, look it up) had not an inch of the fruitcake, which is probably a good thing.

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