Own a slice of history by buying…wedding cake?

chiffon cake

We learned several weeks ago that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle chose to break from the tradition of serving fruitcake at their wedding, opting instead for a lemon and elderflower cake made by baker and cookbook author Claire Ptak. The tradition has held for centuries, and as Atlas Obscura explains, some of that ancient cake is still in circulation

Dating back to at least 1840, when Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, guests of the royal wedding have received commemorative slices of wedding fruitcake to take home as souvenirs. Often the cake was accompanied by a card and encased in a decorative box or tin. According to  Carol Wilson  in her article Wedding Cake: A Slice of History, royal wedding-cake souvenirs were based on the 1800s tradition of sending slices of un-iced “groom’s cake” home with guests.

The practice continued through Prince William and Kate Middleton’s nuptials in 2011. The souvenirs have become collectors’ items, fetching thousands of dollars at auction. A slice of cake from the wedding of Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor  sold for $29,900 in 1998. An upcoming auction will feature cakes that span nearly 40 years of ceremonies, from  the 1973 wedding cake of Princess Anne to the 2011 wedding of Prince William.

The cake for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle won’t become a collector’s item, as the cake will be more fragile than the traditional fruitcake with its preservative liquor soak. People will have to look elsewhere for souvenirs from this royal wedding. 

Photo of Mango buttercream chiffon cake from The Guardian Cook Supplement by Claire Ptak

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