All rights reserved. Jake Smith © 2019

Royal Wedding Luncheon hosted by Their Imperial Majesties the German Emperor (Kaiser) Wilhelm II and Empress (Kaiserin) Victoria Augusta for the marriage of their daughter HRH Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia to HRH Prince Ernest Augustus of Cumberland (the future Duke and Duchess of Brunswick).

 

This wedding banquet was the last time the German Emperor and the King of England would socialise with each other before, just one year later, each would lead his country against the other in World War I.

 

As the two monarchs - indeed the two cousins - smiled at each other across the table while slurping on their bowls of turtle soup, they could not possibly have imagined how Europe would be plunged into chaos the following summer.

 

Sitting just four places down the table from King George V was Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. As the Tsar sipped a 1904 Heidsieck & Co. Champagne and munched on slices of cold roast venison while chatting to the bride on his left and the Dowager Grand Duchess of Baden on his right, he also could not have imagined the impending Russian revolution that would bloodily sweep aside the 300-year Romanov dynasty.

 

On the cusp of such horrors, it seems ironic that three monarchs dined together in this scene of love and beauty set amongst the sparkle and glitter of diamonds, sabres, ornate silverware, gold engraved crystal and flickering candelabras.

 

This was the royal wedding of the decade. The German Emperor’s youngest child and only daughter, Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia, was marrying Prince Ernest of Cumberland.

 

Here was another irony: on the cusp of world war, this wedding was seen as a symbol of peace given the families of the bride and groom had been waring since 1866, when Prussia annexed the Kingdom of Hanover and sent into exile the groom’s grandfather as King and father as Crown Prince.

 

Security for this wedding day was at a maximum. The Tsar had arrived in Berlin two days earlier by special armoured train.  Crowds waiting at the station for the imperial arrival were charmed by the white lambswool caps of the men in the imperial entourage, and the magnificently enrobed Russian Orthodox priests alighting from the train with the Tsar.

 

 “Extensive precautions have been taken for the safety of the royal personages”, reported the New York Times, “the Prussian police being assisted by large bodies of Russian and British detectives”.

 

When King George V and Queen Mary arrived the day before the wedding, their luggage included a diamond diadem for the bride; and an English motorcar for the groom. The King also bought his consent for the marriage which he signed a month earlier. This was a requirement under Britain's Royal Marriages Act as the groom's title as a Prince of Cumberland (and as Prince of Hanover) was recognised as a Prince of British royal blood. 

 

This wedding banquet was served in the White Hall of Berlin's Royal Palace. The menu-card, decorated with the arms of the royal houses of the groom and bride sitting beneath the Hohenzollern crown of the Kaiser, also features a lithograph of the ancient royal matrimonial dance called the Fackeltanz (Torch Dance).

From the private Royal Menu Collection of © Jake Smith

Königliche Mittagstafel

Royal Luncheon

Schildkrötensuppe

Turtle Soup

 

Ostender Steinbutten

Turbot served with an Ostende sauce made from white wine, oysters, truffles and whitebait

 

Poularden auf Italienische Art

Roasted spayed young hens dressed in Sauce à l’italienne made from tomatoes, mushrooms, shallots and ham

 

Schinkauflauf mit Frischen Morcheln

Casseroled ham with fresh morels

 

Kalter Rehrŭcken, Salat

Cold spit-roasted rack of venison with salads

 

Holländische Bombe

Chocolate ice-cream encasing almond ice-cream around a centre of red jelly; and sprinkled with crushed biscuits and macaroons

 

Käsestangen

Cheese sticks

 

Nachtisch

Dessert