The King’s Grand Service – The British Royal Banquet Table Since George IV

Although there is one post here on royal banquets, many have reached this site searching for information on the silver flatware used during a royal banquet.  Not all research has been completed but enough has been unearthed that a few salient facts are available.

As you can see by the following excerpt, more than just flatware comprises the Royal Grand Service:

The magnificent dining silver-gilt used at a State Banquet is from the Grand Service, originally made for George IV when Prince of Wales. It was first used to celebrate the 73rd birthday of his father, George III, in 1811.  As king, George IV continued to add to the service throughout his life, and by his death it included more than 4,000 pieces. Today the Grand Service forms the core of the royal silver and encompasses the best examples of 19th-century design, drawing on Egyptian, Greek, Roman and medieval sources.  The dining plate is dominated by the monumental Mercury and Bacchus and Apples of the Hesperides candelabra, which stand over a metre tall.  Made by the master goldsmith Paul Storr and designed by the sculptor  John  Flaxman,  they  are  always  placed  on  the  table  opposite Her Majesty The Queen and the visiting Head of State. [royalcollection.org]

It is meant to overwhelm.  Looking at the flatware, it is given over to what is called fiddle, thread and shell patterns.  It is best illustrated if we look at the silver flatware “Kings Pattern” that Tiffany produced around the turn of the century and that was wildly popular.  It incorporates many of the decorative details of the above flatware and follows the development of these patterns through the Edwardian Era.  Replicas were found in every hotel in America.

As time permits, more research will be done on this.  Meanwhile, it is hoped that many of your questions have been answered here.  If not, leave your question in a comment.

William And Harry’s Grandma’s Table(s)

Harry and William ride away from a child educationcenter in Lesotho, Africa 2010

No matter that you travel economy class in the air or by horse on the ground, Princes William and Harry of Great Britain cannot easily claim a casual lifestyle for their Grandma, Queen Elizabeth.

Recently, the Emir of  Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his wife, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned came for a three-day visit in the UK.  Qatar was a British protectorate until 1971 and Britain seeks closer ties with the kingdom in an attempt to woo new investors in the UK.  Queen Elizabeth pulled out all of the entertainment stops at Windsor Castle.  In the large hall that has been restored since a fire there, she served what seemed hundreds.

The Queen delivers a speech before the banquet

In 2008, the Queen opened up more of Buckingham palace to tourists and a special exhibit was devised focusing on banquets:

Buckingham Palace has been open to the public since 1993.

The ballroom is where the great state banquets are held – there have been 77 held there during the Queen’s reign and 97 in total (of the other 20, 18 were held at Windsor Castle in Berkshire and 2 at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh) – and [since 2009, the public have been] able to see the room as it is when it is laid for for such an occasion.

The popular monarch loves helping to set up the huge table’s layout – and she also helped to set up this display for the public.

This is the scene which has greeted foreign monarchs, presidents and prime ministers – the Buckingham Palace ballroom prepared for a state banquet.

Laid out are seats for 170, more than 2,000 pieces of polished silver-gilt cutlery, 1,104 glasses, 23 flower arrangements and 100 candles in candelabras.

The Palace’s ballroom has been decorated and the enormous dining table laid out with hundreds of pieces of tableware. [Daily Mail]

Behind the scenes preparations for a state banquet featuring staff walking on the table to light candles and make last minute adjustments.

An overview of the collection of flatware and etc. that are used at a banquet at Buckingham Palace where most have been held until recently when Prince Philip suggested Windsor.  This was shot during an exhibition at the Palace in 2008 that was open to the public:

St. Georges Hall, Windsor. Destroyed During a Fire in recent time, it is amazing that furnishings and paintings were not in place since the fire was the result of faulty wiring during remodeling. St. George is the patron saint of England.

Finally, enjoy reading about the most decadent royal banquet ever.  [Daily Mail]