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The Royal wedding cake is so much more than meets the eye – Here’s why

The exquisite Royal wedding cake unveiled this past weekend was absolutely gorgeous, but the real meaning of the cake may run much deeper than its stunning exterior.

Sometimes, fairy tales spring off the page and come to life – and when Meghan Markle and Prince Henry of Wales, affectionately known as Prince Harry, exchanged vows, many of us shared their emotions of joy and optimism for the future. As might have been expected, the beautiful and Medieval St. George’s Chapel in Windsor didn’t disappoint when providing a stunning and truly exceptional venue for the Royal wedding.

Indeed, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s vision for their nuptials perfectly blended quintessential British traditions with contemporary culture. Just one example of this feat was, of course, their much anticipated wedding cake. Professional pastry chefs and the public at large (perhaps us cake lovers in particular) held our breaths for the moments leading up to its revealing. After the deeply Romantic carriage procession, it couldn’t have been more worth the wait.

The mesmerising Royal wedding cake of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (2011). Insert: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s wedding cake (1947)

The tradition

Royal tradition prescribes that the cake should be a fruit cake with a rich, refined sugar icing. Historically, the fruit cake gradually became more popular than its predecessor, the “Bride’s Pie”, and it symbolised fertility and prosperity – two fortunes very much desired by hopeful couples.

The massive popularity of the white-iced fruit cake was in no small part due to Queen Victoria herself. In 1840, her much admired white wedding dress set the tone for a fashion that still persists today. Her wedding cake was designed to match this era-defining nuptial wear in the purity of its white colour. 42 years later, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany – Queen Victoria’s youngest son – added yet another contribution to an evolving tradition: the icing on his cake was thick and firm enough to allow for tiers to be piled on one another without the cake collapsing. This was just one step away from the columned wedding cake designs that proliferate today.

Watch: pastry Chef, Claire Ptak’s preparation of the Duke and Duchess’s Lemon Elderflower masterpiece

The Duchess breaks new ground

By choosing a freshly flavoured and spring-inspired Lemon Elderflower cake over the highly traditional fruit cake, our two newly weds have clearly expressed their individuality, and that we shouldn’t expect the same-old same-old in the years to come. And there’s a lot more to this than we may initially think: This is to say that the cake is also expressive of the fact that there’s a new lady in town – and that she isn’t shy to shake things up. Like Princess Diana, we may indeed have a trailblazer on our hands.

Not one to shy away

Meghan, at the tender age of just 11 years old, successfully campaigned to have a TV advert she deemed sexist to be withdrawn. Throughout her whole life she has espoused the belief in gender equality, and has been an outspoken feminist. This, it seems, isn’t about to change now, and it’s certain that she won’t play the role of the pretty, but conservative and dutiful, wife. It is also very revealing that, as is widely believed, she was responsible for choosing a friend, pastry Chef Claire Ptak, as the woman to bring the Lemon Elderflower cake to life. Like Meghan, Ptak is a successful American woman that shattered glass ceilings to excel in a male dominated profession. Impressive.

Isn’t it strange just how much a “simple” cake can speak about the woman who has chosen it?

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