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How the British royal family loves their afternoon tea and what you should and shouldn’t do

Here’s how to have “afternoon tea” like a king or queen

Afternoon tea is a popular British food tradition that even the royal family likes to take part in. Even though most Indians are more interested in evening snacks and chai, the Queen, Dukes, and Duchesses of the British Royal family enjoy their long-standing tradition.

First, let’s look at how everything began!

How “afternoon tea” became a tradition for the British Royal Family

During the 1660s, King Charles II and his Portuguese wife, Infanta Catherine de Braganza, spread the idea that English people should drink tea.

But Anna Maria Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, came up with the idea of “afternoon tea” in 1840. She was also a Lady of the Bedchamber for Queen Victoria.

So, one day around four in the afternoon, when the Duchess was hungry, she called for a tray of tea, bread, butter, and cake because dinner was served much later, at eight. This became something the Duchess did every day, so she started having her friends over. Eventually, it became a social event, and between 4 and 5 o’clock, afternoon tea was served.

What does a royal afternoon tea look like?

Royal experts say that afternoon tea is served on a three-tiered cake stand with sandwiches, scones, and many different kinds of cakes.

Sandwiches, scones with cream and jam, sweet pastries, and cakes were all part of the traditional afternoon tea.

In an interview, Queen Elizabeth’s butler Grant Harrold said that she has afternoon tea every day and that her favorite teas are Assam and Earl Grey.

Former royal chef Darren McGrady also said that the Queen loves cucumber, egg, and smoked salmon finger sandwiches with the crusts cut off, of course.

How to enjoy afternoon tea like a royal member, and what not to do

Since most of you may not be familiar with afternoon tea, Mark Hepton, the resident afternoon tea expert at The Cairn Collection’s Stoke Place Hotel, explains how to master and enjoy an afternoon tea like a royal.

“An afternoon tea has a lot of sweet and savory treats to try, but it’s proper royal behavior to start with the sandwiches and then move on to the rest,” he says.

He talks about how to eat a scone by saying, “Royal experts say that at an afternoon tea, the cream should always go on the scone first, then the jam.”

“Don’t talk or eat big bites when your mouth is full.

“Even though it seems obvious, it’s important to eat in small bites at a royal afternoon tea,” he says.

The expert also says, “If you have to leave the table, put your napkin on the chair, not on the table, until you’re done with your tea service.”

The queen eats with her fingers

The afternoon tea expert says that the Queen eats with her fingers, which may surprise everyone.

“Don’t use a fancy knife and fork. Instead, put them down and eat the small finger foods like a real king or queen,” he says.


Mark’s last piece of advice is to make sure the table is “completely clear and ready for tea service.” This includes everything from phones and keys to sunglasses and sunglasses cases.

“Royal experts say it’s bad manners to hold the teacup by the bottom.

“Instead, be courteous and hold it by the handle,” he says.

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