The Queen’s Official Handwasher

We thought we knew it all when it came to our dear HRH. But what keeps us fascinated in the royal family, is the complexity of customs that come from their thousand-plus year history. Especially after we learned this week that the Queen’s official handwasher has kicked the bucket.

Official handwasher?! In his capacity of Washer of the Sovereign’s Hands, a certain Peter Houison Craufurd, had to offer his services – and have “a silver ewer, bowl and salver holding a linen towel on permanent standby” – whenever her maj visited Hollyroodhouse. Over to The Daily Telegraph for all the details. After weeks of public Royal laundry washing, we certainly welcome this good, clean regal titbit.

The Queen loses her hand washer

Peter Houison Craufurd, the Washer of the Sovereign’s Hands, dies at the age of 82.

Tim Walker. Edited by Richard Eden

7:30AM BST 22 Sep 2012


It is one of the more unusual roles occupied by the Queen’s courtiers, but Washer of the Sovereign’s Hands is a post that must now be filled.

Mandrake learns that the holder of the title, Peter Houison Craufurd, died on Monday, at the age of 82. He always had a silver ewer, bowl and salver holding a linen towel on permanent standby.

“We used to have to write to Buckingham Palace to offer to wash the monarch’s hands every time they were in residence at the Palace of Holyroodhouse,” said Houison Craufurd.

“In his day, my father had to make that offer virtually every year, although it was very seldom accepted.

“More recently, we have been told by the Queen’s office that, as we have already washed her hands once, that is all she requires us to do. So now we have to wait until Prince Charles takes the throne before we do it again.”

Read more here.


Prince Harry Sex Tape?

Could we see the below hitting the shelves soon? Rumors are rife that the photos of the young prince in the buff may soon be followed by grainy cell phone footage. As ever, our thoughts go out to dear old Queeny!

This is, of course, only a mock-up. While rumors are doing the rounds online, the existence of a sex tape featuring the prince is in no way confirmed.

A Recipe For Prince Harry: Spotted Dick

After Prince Harry’s recent performance in Las Vegas, we think it’s about time his dear old Grandma hoicked him back to the Palace, sat him down with a cup of tea and some homemade comfort food and gave his ear a good bending. And we have the perfect dish to accompany this most regal of talking-to’s… Spotted dick! A classic British dessert with a name that causes as many “haha’s” as its indulgent flavors do “mmmmm’s”. This one’s for you Ma’am, get ya mixing bowl out!

Spotted Dick with Custard


Recipe Ingredients:

  • 325g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 60g brown sugar (demerara)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 220g shredded suet (this can be vegetarian, but beef suet is best)
  • 220g currants (or raisins)
  • 300ml milk

To serve

” In a large mixing bowl sieve in the flour. Then add in the sea salt, cinnamon, sugar, shredded suet, and the currants (or raisins). Using a wooden spoon mix these ingredients together, then add in the beaten eggs and cold milk, keep mixing with the spoon until it comes together. If the mixture is a little wet and in more plain flour. The mixture should be of a soft ‘dropping’ consistency, i.e. the mixture is not too sloppy but will drop off the spoon when tilted.

Spoon the mixture into the greased pudding basin, pack it down a little and level the surface with the back of the spoon – the level of the pudding should be about 3cm (1.5 inches) below the top of the basin (or less). Cut a round, large sheet of greaseproof paper and one of foil slightly bigger so they will come down at least 10cm (4 inches) over the sides of the basin…”

For the rest of the recipe, click here. And we sell a tinned version in-store if you’re after a quick fix, if you have a game of billiards to attend to, for example…

Prince Phillip: A Life in Photos

There’s bittersweet news today as Prince Phillip was discharged from hospital. It follows a number of recent check-ins for the husband of The Queen that leave all at Tea & Sympathy concerned for his general well-being. However, our thoughts are with him, and we’d like to celebrate the good innings he’s had to date with these superb photos taken throughout his life. Chin up Phil, show us that stiff upper lip!

Newlyweds. Prince Phillip & The Queen on their wedding day, 20 November 1947.

Family man. With a young Prince Charles & Princes Anne and The Queen.

All hail The Queen… and her husband! Coronation day, 2 June 1953.

Proud father. On the way to the wedding of Prince Charles & Princess Diana.

Heads up! Inspecting an RAF flyover aboard HMS Britannia.

A sad day. Inspecting flowers following the death of Princess Diana.

Sharing a joke with Pippa Middleton at Prince William & Kate’s wedding.

It’s Prince Phillip to you Mr President. With the Obamas, 2009.

With the family!

Ageing gracefully. Attending a state banquet last year at Dublin Castle.

Kate Middleton’s Olympic Style: The Queen, Christopher Kane & Michelle Obama

And they’re off! While the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony did not disappoint, we’re staying true to our traditional monday ‘Royal Roundup’, with a look at Kate Middleton’s outfit. Playing it cool in a bespoke ice blue silk dress by Scottish designer Christopher Kane she matched perfectly with The Queen and looked immaculate as she greeted foreign dignitaries, including Michelle Obama.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this: does this look win Olympic gold?

Kate Middleton wears Christopher Kane dress for London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony meeting with Michelle Obama



Kate Middleton’s £10million Dress & The Queen’s Influence on Fashion

With news that the public exhibition of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress has raised £10 million for the Royal Family, we felt it appropriate to share this article from the BBC, taking a look at The Queen’s influence on fashion. Not least for the excellent images!

Does the Queen do fashion?

She is one of the most photographed women in the world, but how much of a sartorial influence has the Queen had?

The Queen might be visiting a hospital one day, or welcoming a world leader the next – and her clothes are her uniform.

But just how much has she influenced ordinary women’s dress?

“To design a dress for the Queen means you are creating something for the world’s most famous woman, who’s seen by more people on a daily basis than anyone else. She also has an image in people’s minds that you have to fulfil,” says Stewart Parvin, who’s been designing for the Queen since 2000.

He has to work around the rules – the Queen always wears a two-inch heel, hemlines must be well below the knee, and she always carries a handbag.

“She has to wear strong colours, she’s very tiny, and in a block colour with a wonderful hat, she stands out – she’s a real focal point,” he adds. Read the rest here.

Dolce & Gabbana’s autumn/winter 2008-09 show gave a sartorial nod to the Queen

Was the post-war period the Queen’s Golden Age for fashion? Norman Hartnell designed her sumptuous evening gowns, and Hardy Amies designed much of her daywear

Hats off – or should that be on? The Queen is known for her choice of headwear

Kate Middleton & The Queen Fall Out over a Curtesy

So it seems all is not roses in the House of Windsor. While The Queen has been the belle of Britain’s heart lately, we’ve been given a rare glimpse of her steelier side as Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, who seems to have felt her ire. If you thought you had it bad with the mother-in-law, think again.

It seems they have fallen out over the simple issue of who is to curtsy to who.  The entry of a new member to the most traditional of families has led to a very complicated overhaul of intra-family rules of engagement. The Daily Telegraph explains:

The new rules of Court make it clear that the former Kate Middleton, when she is not accompanied by Prince William, must curtsy to the “blood princesses”, the Princess Royal, Princess Alexandra, and the daughters of the Duke of York, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

When William is with her, Kate does not need to bend the knee to either of them, but she must curtsy to the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Despite being married to the Queen’s son, the Countess of Wessex will, however, have to curtsy to Kate, even when William is not present.

Well, we warned you: etiquette is a deadly important issue amongst the Royalty. We feel a mini-guide to curtseying coming on, just in case you bump into a regal matriarch!

And is it just us, our does “blood princesses” have something of an ominous ring to it! Wouldn’t want to bump into them late at night in Hell’s Kitchen…

Nicky’s Dad Ted Perry MBE

We’ve got a piece of family history for you today on the blog. Here’s a picture of our dear owner (matriarch to the British expats of NYC, unofficial consular-general and shoulder to cry on for these missing home), Nicola Perry with her sister Louise and her dad Ted on the day he received his MBE.

Check out that handbag!

Ted was a truly remarkable man. After a successful career in the music industry, he founded Hyperion Records in 1980, a classical music label that went on to great success. Here’s an excerpt from his obituary in the Guardian:

“Ted Perry, who has died aged 71, was one of the most industrious and admired characters in the recording industry… [Hyperion Records] became one of the most important of independent companies, adopting an adventurous policy entirely inspired by Perry’s intuition as regards making rare repertory popular. Many thought that his enterprise was foolhardy, but right up to his death, he proved them wholly wrong; there was and is a public for the unusual when presented with discernment.”

He was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 1990 for services to music. Let’s see if Nicky will one day follow in his footsteps to Buckingham Palace!

The Queen & Prince Phillip Wedding Photos

While we don’t want to overdo all this monarchy business, we thought these photos of the marriage of The Queen and Prince Phillip were so fabulous, it was safe to share them so close after the Queen’s Jubilee. Especially as they come with a fantastic story: according to the Queen’s nanny, the young Elizabeth lost her heart to Phillip while slow dancing to tunes from the musical Oklahoma! They’d fit in perfectly in the West Village.

The official wedding portrait.

King George VI and The Queen Mother returning to Buckingham Palace through Trafalgar Square. Notice conspicuous lack of cell phones in hands!

On the balcony and still perfecting the wave. From left to right: Princess Margaret, Lady Mary Cambridge, the Royal couple, and the Queen Mother.


The best man to the left of Elizabeth, bridesmaids (including Princess Margaret Rose), right, beside Prince Philip, and the page boys. Lady Mary Cambridge is third from left, Princess Alexandra of Kent, is fourth from left.

You can read the full account of the romance according to Queen Elizabeth’s nanny here.