The tradition of royal wedding cakes

Royal wedding cakes are usually grand affairs, elaborately decorated and stretching over multiple tiers.

Rich fruit cakes have mostly been the traditional choice for royal brides and grooms.

But Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are instead opting for a light, organic lemon elderflower cake by food writer and pastry chef Claire Ptak, owner of an east London bakery.

Claire Ptak, owner of Violet Bakery in Hackney, east London, who has been chosen to make Harry and Ms Markle's wedding cake (Victoria Jones/PA)
Claire Ptak, owner of Violet Bakery in Hackney, east London, who has been chosen to make Harry and Ms Markle's wedding cake (Victoria Jones/PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had two cakes made for their 2011 nuptials.

The first was a magnificent eight-tiered iced traditional fruit cake featuring the "language of flowers" made by Leicestershire baker Fiona Cairns.

Fiona Cairns stands proudly next to the cake that she and her team made for William and Kate (John Stillwell/PA)
Fiona Cairns stands proudly next to the cake that she and her team made for William and Kate (John Stillwell/PA)

The confectionery masterpiece - which took five weeks to make - was covered in cream and intricate white icing and decorated with up to 900 delicate sugar-paste flowers.

It was centre-stage at the Buckingham Palace reception held in the picture gallery.

William and Kate had two cakes at their wedding reception (PA)
William and Kate had two cakes at their wedding reception (PA)

William and Kate saved the top two tiers of the cake for their future children's christenings.

Their second cake was a childhood favourite of William's - an unbaked chocolate biscuit cake.

The wedding cake made by McVities for William (Clarence House/PA)
The wedding cake made by McVities for William (Clarence House/PA)

It was made by McVities to a recipe the firm received from Buckingham Palace kitchen chefs.

As well as a couple of secret ingredients, it featured dark chocolate and broken up rich tea biscuits.

McVitie and Price, as the firm was then known, also made Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten's (the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's) official wedding cake in 1947.

It was nine feet high in four tiers and painted with panels of the armorial bearings of both families, and included the monograms of bride and groom, sugar-iced figures to depict their favourite activities, and regimental and naval badges.

Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh's wedding cake (PA)
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's wedding cake (PA)

The cake was made using ingredients given as a wedding gift by Australian Girl Guides, as post-war food rationing was still in place in the wake of the Second World War.

When the Prince of Wales married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, their official royal wedding cake was 5ft high and weighed 255 lbs.

It was made by the Royal Navy's Cookery school, HMS Pembroke, at Chatham.

Charles and Diana's wedding cake made by the Royal Navy's Cookery School (PA)
Charles and Diana's wedding cake made by the Royal Navy's Cookery School (PA)

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's white iced two-tier wedding cake in 1840 was 9ft in diameter and weighed 300 lbs.

It was decorated with the figure of Britannia in the act of blessing figures of the bride and groom dressed in ancient Greek costume.

Victoria's cake is seen as the most influential of royal wedding cakes.

Queen Victoria's wedding cake weighed 300 pounds (thats almost 21 stone!)#QueenVictoriaWeddingFactspic.twitter.com/94fxXANvGV

-- Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies (@LCVSLeeds) November 8, 2017

Prior to Victoria, wedding cakes were not an important feature at wedding receptions.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, weddings featured the "bride pie", which was a meat-filled dish which formed part of the wedding banquet.

Princess Margaret - the Queen's sister - had  her monogram and coat of arms on the side of her large wedding cake.

Princess Margaret's coat of arms featured on the official wedding cake made for her wedding to Antony Armstrong-Jones (PA)
Princess Margaret's coat of arms featured on the official wedding cake made for her wedding to Antony Armstrong-Jones (PA)

It was made of hexagonal tiers and was finished with a large bow.

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