Empress has special plans for ‘royal subjects’
With the wedding of H.R.H. Prince William and Kate Middleton around the corner, afternoon tea has been elevated from a Victorian treat to a Royal event. And though images of elderly ladies in pearls, morning suits and white gloves spring to mind at the mere mention of this British ritual, young and old alike are enjoying bone china, tiny silver spoons and the quiet clink of intricately patterned cups on saucers.
This elegant respite has always had its roots in royalty. In the 17th century, King Charles II’s wife, Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal, is credited with bringing the tradition to England. In the late 18th century, Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford, started the modern tradition of afternoon tea. She found that a small mid-afternoon meal of finger sandwiches or cakes cured her of that “sinking feeling” that came around three or four o’clock, as dinner was served at eight or nine in the evening.
But afternoon tea has become so much more than a simple snack enjoyed by ladies of the Empire. For those who’ve never experienced it, formal tea can seem intimidating. The aforementioned fine china combined with an air of formality is enough to make anyone sweat. But a good host is all it takes to lay aside feelings of uncertainty and make afternoon tea a delight you’ll want to repeat.
If you’ve become flushed with Royal pride, join the “Royal Subjects’ Tea” on the Empress Hotel’s manicured lawn Friday, April 29. Bring a chair or picnic blanket and get ready to enjoy an afternoon dog show, with prizes for the best dressed dogs. “Afternoon Tea-To-Go” (a cup of tea, traditional scone, cream, jam, mini sandwiches, Empress made pastries and a flag to wave) can be purchased for $20. If your more interested in the Royal wedding, try the Empress’ “Rise and Shine with the Royals,” at 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. on April 29. Enjoy a full English breakfast, including eggs, kippers, baked beans, fried bread, fruit and pastries in the Empress’ exquisitely appointed Tea Lounge ($50).
The Empress’ festivities continue April 30 and May 1 with the “Royal Celebration Tea.” For those craving a more exclusive grand tradition, step into the Empress’ Library for an upgraded tea service with a glass of sparkling wine ($90, tickets limited).
For a more casual afternoon, The James Bay Tea Room is waiting with open saucers. This local institution’s quaint charm and British memorabilia keeps people coming back for more. From April 29 to May 1, enjoy a special tea service, including cucumber and cream cheese finger sandwiches, home-made sweet scones with fresh whipped cream and jam, a fresh strawberry cup with orange liquor, assorted petit fours, tea or coffee, and a favour bag. ($15).
But perhaps you’d rather turn your Royal celebrations into a more private affair.
The English Inn is offering a celebration package on the night of April 28. Watch the Royal wedding live in your room at this English manor house with a late-night tea snack basket or the English beer and champagne from the mini bar. Royal keepsake included. M