Alfonso XIII

King of Spain

From the private Royal Menu Collection of © Jake Smith

Menu dated 12th December 1903

Dinner hosted by His Catholic Majesty King Alfonso XIII of Spain, aboard the Emperador Carlos V anchored in Lisbon, in honour of his guests Their Most Faithful Majesties King Carlos I and Queen Amélie of Portugal.

King Alfonso XIII of Spain was just 17 years-old when he hosted this royal luncheon aboard Spain’s largest warship of the day , the Emperador Carlos V. The Spanish King had attained his majority just 18 months earlier, at the age of 16, which ended the regency of his mother.

On this day the young King’s luncheon guests were the King and Queen of Portugal along with Queen Pia, who was the mother of the Portuguese King. On the following day, Alfonso XIII attended a bullfight in Lisbon before heading to the Villa Vicosa for two days of hunting.

William Collier, who served as the American Ambassador to the Spanish Court, remembered the ceremony of dining with the Spanish King (and his future wife Queen Victoria who he would marry three years after this luncheon):

"The Introducer of Ambassadors gave each person, lady as well as gentleman, a plan of the table and a numbered card showing where he or she would sit. Gentlemen were not asked or expected to escort the ladies to the table, although that is the universal practice in Spain at diplomatic dinners and dinners in private houses; but the King and the princes at this dinner gave their arms to the ladies of the royal family and the other princesses.

When dinner was ready to be served the royal party appeared and, the King and Queen leading the way, passed into the dining-room, the guests following in any order they chose. There was but one rule: "Find your seat with the aid of your card; if it is beyond the seats of the King and Queen bow to them when you pass." It is needless to say that the cuisine was excellent and that the menu was choice and varied. Perhaps I ought not to use the French word menu.

It used to be the custom of the court to print it in French, but pursuant to a recent decree of the King, it was then and thereafter printed in Spanish. There were ten courses and six wines.

The table decorations and appointments were, of course, luxurious, and the service was faultless. I have read many accounts of the awfulness and
the awesomeness of the formality of palace dinners at the Spanish court. It did not impress me in that way".

Lunch Guest,

King Carlos I of Portugal.

The Times, 13 December 1903

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