The royal wedding reception
Mini bowls and canapes on the menu – and it’s standing room only, writes Hannah Furness
For most wedding guests, it is the moment of truth: will they spend the reception sitting next to the most eligible bachelor in the room or the family bore?
For friends of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle no such anguish over the seating plan will be necessary, as the couple opt for a standing-only reception complete with very fashionable “bowl food”.
The Prince and Markle, who is no stranger to a showbiz party after her years as an actress, will provide a combination of canapes and small meals in bowls for guests at their afternoon reception, attended by senior members of the royal family.
Hosted by the Queen, plans have been drawn up by the couple themselves, who have visited the Windsor Castle kitchens to test each recipe.
Made with seasonal ingredients grown on the Crown Estates, the food is intended to be eaten standing up, allowing guests to mingle freely in St George’s Hall.
Bowl food has become a staple of the modern party scene, with hungry guests juggling a champagne glass in one hand while balancing a dish on their arm to eat their food with a fork.
They are often used for heartier, warm food, such as risotto, sausage and mash or pasta.
As with all royal weddings – from Queen Victoria’s cake to Kate Middleton’s lace dress – the couple’s choices will no doubt set the trend for years to come.
After the Prince and Markle finally selected their wedding reception menu, staff at the kitchens of Windsor Castle had to work hard at perfecting it over the following days and keep it all under wraps until this afternoon.
Royal chef Mark Flanagan, who is leading the team who today will put the finishing touches to the sweet and savoury canapes, designed to be eaten in two bites, and bowls.
Flanagan said: “The day of the wedding has fallen very kindly for us. All the British vegetables are just coming into season ... and that’s been a point of focus for us.
“We know the couple wanted us to make sure we used all of the local seasonal produce as much as possible throughout their menu, and this recent good weather is really helping us to achieve that.
“For all their decisions, we purely made suggestions and the couple ... they’ve tasted everything, they’ve been involved in every detail,” he said.
The Prince and Markle will marry at Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel, taking a carriage ride through the streets of Windsor before joining their 600 wedding guests for the St George’s Hall reception.
The food is likely to be accompanied by champagne and wine from the extensive royal cellars, as well as soft drinks.
The head chef would not discuss the dishes in detail, but is expected to work with seasonal produce including asparagus, peas and tomatoes, as well as more decadent treats such as chocolate truffles.
In a bid to keep as many ingredients as possible British and local, Flanagan’s team have sourced them from the home counties and lands associated with the Queen like Windsor.
“We are using produce off Her Majesty’s estates and that features very much,” he said.
Flanagan added: “We’ve really just been trying to let the ingredients stand proud within the dishes. There’s no experimentation on Saturday whatsoever, tried and tested and predominantly classics.”
Preparations for the reception began early this week after numerous trials, with 30 kitchen staff working today.
The chef said he and his team started preparing for the wedding even before the couple requested their services, adding: “Once the wedding announcement was made, we started to work on some ideas, about what we would do if we were asked to be involved, so we were able to get into the trial situation early in March.”
The Prince and Markle visited Windsor Castle to sample the menu suggestions in the castle’s Great Kitchen.
After the afternoon reception, the couple will retire to rooms at the castle before making their way to Frogmore House.
There, at an evening reception, they will entertain 200 of their closest friends with more food and drink in a more personal celebration of their marriage. – The Telegraph