While the beleaguered Markle family have grabbed headlines leading up to the royal wedding on Saturday, behind the scenes key players have been quietly going about their business, with insider details leaking out of the final preparations.
Gearing up to create Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding cake, East London baker Claire Ptak posted an Instagram photo of how she’s kicking off the spoilt order.
“And so it begins,” Ms Ptak, owner of cult East London bakery Violet, captioned a photo of six crates of Sicilian lemons, delivered by fruiterers Natoora.
Harry, 33, and Meghan, 36, commissioned Ms Ptak “to create a lemon elderflower cake that will incorporate the bright flavours of spring”, Kensington Palace revealed last month.
The cake “will be covered with buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers,” the palace said.
Baking the couple’s cake is a coup for California-raised Ms Ptak, who started her now-famous business as a market stall before opening the café in 2010.
Meghan, who once interviewed Ms Ptak for her now-defunct food and lifestyle blog The Tig, is a fan of the “organic and low intervention ingredients” favoured at Violet.
Knowing the bride and groom “really share the same values as I do about food provenance, sustainability, seasonality and most importantly flavour, makes this the most exciting event to be a part of,” the pastry chef said.
The cake is a departure from the usual towering fruit cakes favoured by former royal brides and grooms.
In 2011, Prince William and Kate Middleton chose a traditional eight-tier design covered in white icing and decorated with sugar flowers.
When Harry’s parents Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles wed in 1981, their six-tier confection was topped with cream cheese frosting and made by the head baker of the Naval Armed Forces.
Ms Ptak’s more contemporary cake will be the sentimental dessert centrepiece at Meghan and Harry’s afternoon reception at St George’s Hall on Saturday.
The couple has avoided the headache of a table seating plan by reportedly opting for a stand-up reception for their 600 guests.
According to reports, a combination of canapés, ‘bowl’ food and sweet nibbles, including chocolate truffles, will be handed around.
The menu has been masterminded by Harry and Meghan, who are said to have tested each recipe in the Windsor Castle kitchens.
“We purely made suggestions; the couple tasted everything, they’ve been involved in every detail,” royal chef Mark Flanagan said.
Most of the ingredients have been sourced from the Queen’s estates and while Mr Flanagan wouldn’t go into detail, he let slip the dishes “will be predominantly classics.”
The food is likely to be accompanied by champagne and wine from the royal cellars although Meghan’s favourite wine – Tignanello, an Italian Sangiovese – might get a look in.
The informal serving style means the newlyweds will get around to as many of their guests as possible at the lunch, after their carriage ride through the streets of Windsor.
Meanwhile, in London’s suburban Fulham, a large truck parked outside royal wedding floral designer Philippa Craddock’s shop was loaded with containers of pink and white flowers days out from the wedding.
The truck was also loaded with a large ornamental vase, ladders and decorative branches.
Ms Craddock – who has an unofficial title herself according to social media, ‘the queen of London florists’, landed the plum job of creating the floral displays for the wedding service and reception.
I am thrilled to share with you that we have been asked by Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle to create their wedding flowers in May. I am loving working with them, it is an incredible privilege, and the designs will be a true reflection of them as a couple, with sustainability at the forefront. We will be using plenty of locally sourced greenery and seasonal flowers including peonies, garden roses and foxgloves @kensingtonroyal photograph credit PA
A post shared by Philippa Craddock (@philippacraddock) on
With a client list that includes British Vogue and fashion houses Alexander McQueen and Christian Dior, the florist gives wedding couples a complimentary phone consultation before a £450 ($813) meeting in person to discuss themes, mood boards and designs.
Tipped to feature at Harry and Meghan’s wedding: Branches of beech, birch and hornbeam, Princess Diana’s favourite white garden roses, and Meghan’s personal signature flower, peonies.
Working with the royal couple “has been an absolute pleasure,” said Ms Craddock, who added “local sourcing, seasonality and sustainability” topped the pair’s wish list.
“The process has been highly collaborative, free-flowing, creative and fun,” she said. “The final designs will represent them as a couple.”