Palazzo Ca' Capello
"Ascension Day. We all went to morning service. Just at the end of the service the old verger brought me a note. I opened it just outside the church there was a steam launch & the petty officer standing waiting for an answer to the note he had brought from Lord Howe saying that the Queen & Empress & Pss Victoria proposed to come to luncheon with me at 1 today a party of 12 persons.
I said to Lady Gregory who was by me, “It is impossible it is now 11.30”– She said “Oh yes you can do it don’t refuse.”
I went to the pozzo in the middle of the Campo & using the iron cover as a table I wrote at the back of Lord Howe’s note—“Very much honored all right, only make it 1.30.”
We hastened home & I ran up to the kitchen wh[ich] is on the 2nd floor & propounded the situation to Sear my excellent cook.
Being a party of 8 in the house she luckily had food in the house & happened to have 2 unplucked pheasants.
After arranging the menu with her I ran down to Giuseppe & told him to get the table ready for 19 persons. We went to Mrs Curtis to borrow her servant & telephoned to Sr Malagola to send his.
Ola ran out to buy flowers. Being a fête day it was difficult to buy anything. By helping ourselves & with the help of the whole household everything was ready before the arrival of the R[oyal]. party consisting of the Queen, the Empress, Princess Victoria, Lady Antrim, Adl Colin Keppel, Miss Knollys. The Russian Gentleman in waiting.
I sat in the centre of the table the Empress on my right the Queen on my left. Princess Victoria on the other side of the table opposite to me. Sear rose to the occasion. The Royal sisters sat well – Lunch was served quite reasonably quickly considering we had only 4 servants, Giuseppe, old deaf Pasquale & the 2 strange servants. At this moment I am without my footman who fell ill some time ago & had to return to his home. I told the Q[ueen]. of the visit of the Emperor & how he had said he had enjoyed having her & the King at Berlin."
Tsarina Marie Fyodorovna of Russia
with her sister Queen Alexandra
In 1909 Lady Layard recorded in her diary the arrival in Venice of Queen Alexandra and her sister the Dowager Empress of Russia. Lady Layard was a personal friend of the Queen and had been asked to host the sisters to lunch at her home, the Palazza Ca' Capello, overlooking Venice's Grand Canal. The following is her diary entry for 20th May 1909 - just three days prior to the royal menu featured on this website.
The above diary extract was accessed from
The Armstrong Browning Library of Baylor University