03-28-2011 by L. S. Carbonell
Traditional British wedding cakes are not the white/yellow cake and white frosting things we Americans have. Fruitcake is not just for Christmas in England. In fact, it’s not for Christmas at all. A British wedding cake is multiple layers of fruitcake, with a top layer of marzipan (an almond paste), covered in white royal icing. That’s “royal” as is the type of icing, not “Royal” as in something limited to the Windsors.
Ms. Middleton has requested a politically correct range of flowers on the cake: English roses, Irish shamrocks, Scottish thistles and Welsh daffodils. The usual botanical symbol of Wales is the leek, whose flower resembles an oversized clover flower – round, small multiple petals and white. The two words – leeks and daffodils – are very similar in Welsh and there’s some question if the two were confused over the years. The English haven’t really gotten the hang of the Welsh language in spite of being the country’s overlords for a thousand years. Daffodils will certainly provide a nice contrast to the thistle that leeks flowers wouldn’t.
There are two different receptions being planned, a post-ceremony lunch and a late-into-the-night party, and two cakes. Prince William has requested a personal favorite for his groom’s cake and the specifics on that have not been revealed. What is known is that it involves a lot of chocolate and sugar cookies (biscuits to those who speak British) and is frozen, not baked.
At Ms. Middleton’s request, she will arrive at Westminster Abbey in the same Royal Rolls Royce that Prince Charles and Lady Camilla were riding in when they were caught up in a recent anti-government demonstration. The car has been repaired. Ms. Middleton chose the Rolls over the Royal Glass Carriage allegedly because she wanted to arrive at the wedding as a true commoner, but having seen the damage that carriage can do to a wedding dress, I’d opt for a more practical reason – the Rolls has a bigger back seat.
Of more importance than all the little details is the general unrest in the United Kingdom at this time. The “austerity budget” that Prime Minister Cameron has pushed through is deeply unpopular and there have been protests for months now. The one Prince Charles was caught in was about increases in student tuitions for the national colleges and universities. There have been reports of attempts to organize protests and disruptions on the wedding day. This represents a shift in public opinion about the Royals. They are barred by the constitution from actually participating in politics. The Queen’s role in the government is severely limited. Normally, the Royals are exempted from any public demonstrations against the government. Her Majesty has been trying for years to assure the public that the Royal family has cut back their subsidies from the government, pretty much limiting it to the costs of operating the palaces which belong not to the Royals, but to the nation. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert set up sufficient private holdings – mostly in real estate – that the family can self-sustain without any “salaries” from the public.
Even though the Royals are not allowed to publicly speak out about politics, there have been small things over the years that remarkably show a tendency, at least in Her Majesty and Prince Charles, towards more a more liberal mindset. Certainly, Prince Charles has championed as much as possible more liberal, even new-age, ideas and a deep support for programs that provide a means for people to work their way into higher social and economic stratas of society with a hand-up not a hand-out. Her Majesty helped engineer the ouster of conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. How much the younger people who are driving most of the demonstrations are willing to leave Prince William and Kate Middleton out of the equation is yet to be seen.