All rights reserved. Jake Smith © 2019

There are few future British monarchs who have spent their Christmas Day in India’s Calcutta. But in 1875 that’s exactly where the future King Edward VII, then the 34 year-old Prince of Wales, had docked his ship in readiness for an amazing Christmas Banquet that surely tested the resources and ingenuity of the royal naval chefs.

 

Tyranny of distance proved to be no barrier to the chefs who were expected to prepare the future King of England with a traditional Victorian Christmas banquet; while the crew set to work recreating false snow landscapes on the deck.

 

On this Christmas morning the Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Viceroy of India, attended divine service in Saint Paul’s Cathedral before returning to HMS Serapis to host and partake in this royal Christmas banquet, served on deck, complete with all the traditional offerings of turkey, legs of ham, grouse, plum pudding, sherry jellies and mince pies.

 

This was the trip of a lifetime for the future King who had set sail from London on 11th October 1875 and would not return until the 11th May the following year. There were fifty men in the Prince’s party including the Duke of Sutherland and his honorary Private Secretary, Sir William Russell, who recounted of this Christmas day how:

 

“thousands of natives and hundreds of Europeans, attracted by the Serapis dressed out with flags, had assembled. Two lines of sailors (Commander  Bedford) and marines (Major Snow) were drawn up on  the gangway, which was covered with scarlet cloth, and on pontoons extending from the shore to the ship. Outside,  the officers of the Serapis and of the Osborne. Most of  the blue-jackets had flowers in their breast.

 

"The deck  was artfully transformed into a winter scene by means of  shrubs and branches covered with cotton-wool to represent  snow, which, with the aid of some glistening white powder,  it did most successfully. Holly and ivy wreaths, fabricated on board, were suspended on the bunting-walls  alongside inscriptions of "Welcome, merry Christmas!"  "Happy new year!" "God bless the Prince of Wales!" “céad míle fáilte," "Welcome."

 

Old Father Christmas  was duly represented. Across the forecastle was the inscription, "We wish you a prosperous journey and a safe  return to us." A table prettily decorated, was prepared for lunch on the main-deck. "God save the Queen" having  been played, the health of the Prince was drunk with  Highland honours, the cheers being echoed by the crowd outside. The Prince proposed the health of Captain Glyn  and the officers of the Serapis, to whom he paid some  graceful compliments, adding the name of Commander  Durrant of the Osborne.

 

The menu-card is embossed with the Prince of Wales personal monogram at the time, which inlcuded the letters 'A' and 'E' for Prince Albert Edward. Fittingly for this tour, his monogram is also surrounded with the collar of the Order of the Star of India for whch the Prince of Wales was the second member (following his father) since the creation of the Order in 1861 by Queen Victoria.

Printaníer au Consommé

Spring vegetable consommé

 

Côtelettes de Mouton aux pois

Mutton cutlets dressed with peas cooked with onions and lettuce

 

Poulets au Yus au Cresson

Chicken breasts dressed in creamed watercress flavoured with the pan juices from the chicken

 

Galantines de Dinde a l’Aspic

Cold dish of de-boned turkeys stuffed with forcemeat and foie-gras which have been glazed in aspic jelly

 

Pâtés de Grouses ala Gelée

Pastries filled with grouse meat and sealed with aspic jelly

 

Yambon Glacé

Cold ham

 

Dindonneaux Rotis

Roast young turkeys

 

Langues a l’ E’carlatte

Beef tongue pickled using saltpetre and dressed in a tomato sauce

 

Bœuf Roti a l’Anglaise

Roast beef served with roast vegetables

 

Mayonnaise de Poulets

Chicken breasts dressed in mayonnaise

 

Poulets découpér Garnis de Langues

Finger-food sized slices of chicken breast, cut into Christmas shapes such as stars, and layered with a thin slice each of cured tongue and truffle

 

Salade de Homards a l’Aspic

Elaboarte high moulds of aspic jelly filled with lobster meat and topped with mayonnaise

 

Balottines de Bologne ala Gelée

Bologne sausage meat rolled into a cheesecloth with pickled tongue and olives before being bacon stock, cooled, unwrapped, topped with stock and chilled until jellied

 

Macédoine de Fruits au Champagne

Elaborate high moulds of Champagne jellies filled with diced fruits and topped with cream

 

Gelée au Vin de Zerés

Sherry jelly

 

Petites patisseries Assorties

Assortment of small cakes

 

Peum-pudding au Saboyon

Plum Pudding (spelt the old-fasioned way) served with zabaglione made from whisking egg yolks with sugar, white wine and brandy

 

Mince Pies a l’Anglaise

Traditional English mince pies

Menu dated: Christmas Day, 25th December 1875

 

Christmas Day luncheon hosted by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales (future King Edward VII) aboard Her Majesty’s Ship Serapis moored in Calcutta, India.

From the private Royal Menu Collection of © Jake Smith

HMS Serapis:  moored in Calcutta for Christmas Day 1875 carrying its royal passenger, the Prince of Wales (future Edward VII).

 

Photo source: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

The Prince of Wales in India:  the future King Edward VII on tour in India in 1875 poses atop his elephant used for a tiger hunt; and poses with his trophy (second from left, back row). (Photo courtesy: Library of Congress)