Friday, December 6, 2013

Afternoon Tea at Marlborough House

Edwardian Promenade quotes from a contemporary account about tea with Queen Alexandra:
Afternoon tea is served at four o’clock and is quite an informal entertainment. The guests who would probably not number more than half a dozen arrive a few minutes before the hour, and at four, Queen Alexandra, accompanied by Miss Charlotte Knollys, enters the room. The guests, of course, all rise at the entrance of their Royal hostess and Queen Alexandra shakes hands with each.

Tea is generally poured out by Miss Knollys; though if the guests are very few this office is sometimes performed by Queen Alexandra. The cakes, sandwiches, etc., are handed round by one or two of the younger members of Queen Alexandra’s household, who are usually in attendance on such occasions. It should perhaps be explained that with the exception of Miss Knollys, there are now no resident members of Queen Alexandra’s household. Members whose presence may be required are notified of the fact and they go to Marlborough House in the morning.

The usual afternoon tea service used at Marlborough House is one that was a present from Queen Victoria to Queen Alexandra when Her Majesty became engaged to King Edward. It is an old Georgian service that was once in the possession of Queen Charlotte, and is probably the most valuable of the many tea services in the plate room at Marlborough House. Among the most frequent guests at afternoon tea at Marlborough House are the Marquis D’Hautpool and Lady Dalkeith, who are both old friends of Queen Alexandra.

The Princess Mary is a very constant guest at afternoon tea; the Princess is generally escorted to and from Buckingham Palace by her governess, but occasionally comes with one of her elder brothers. King George and Queen Mary are, of course, also very constant guests at afternoon tea at Marlborough House, but when Their Majesties are present there are never other guests except members of the Royal family.

In the summer time, when the weather is very fine Queen Alexandra and Miss Knollys nearly always have tea in the conservatory when by themselves, and Her Majesty frequently gets through a portion of her correspondence here in the summer afternoons, but guests are not entertained in the conservatory. Queen Alexandra, when in London, sometimes honors some of her more intimate friends by going to afternoon tea at their house. (Read more.)

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