Plans for the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are well under way. Is it going to be the wedding of the year, if not the decade? Almost certainly. But it’ll be a little different from other such ceremonies of recent years. After all, both the bride and groom are strong-minded and confident people, and they want to do things their way – no matter what royal protocol they’re supposed to subscribe to. Even the cake is going to be a bit of a departure from the norm.
Ever since the wedding was announced, many fans of the British royal family have been in a flurry of excitement. And in recent months, Meghan and Harry have demonstrated time and time again just how in love they are. Their engagement photos showed them all cuddled up together and smiling happily, for example – another slight break from tradition, as royals don’t usually do public intimacy.
Meanwhile, the nuptials themselves will take place on May 19, 2018, at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. And not only is the official guest list large, but well-wishers are almost certainly going to crowd the streets in order to get a glimpse of the happy couple. That’s not even counting the millions of people who will watch online or on TV, either.
Furthermore, every little detail of the forthcoming event has been analyzed. Bets on Meghan’s wedding dress designer got so intense that in February Betfair stopped accepting them, and despite speculation the name of the individual concerned is still a closely guarded secret. Nevertheless, one thing has been officially revealed: on March 20, 2018, Kensington Palace announced that Harry and Meghan had picked a wedding cake chef.
The message read, “For their wedding cake, Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle have chosen pastry chef Claire Ptak, owner of the London-based bakery @violetcakes. Prince Harry and Ms. Markle have asked Claire to create a lemon elderflower cake that will incorporate the bright flavors of spring. It will be covered with buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers.”
The announcement continued, “Claire Ptak, who was raised in California, focuses on using seasonal and organic ingredients in her cakes. Ms. Markle previously interviewed Chef Ptak for her former lifestyle website The Tig.” And indeed she did. Meghan clearly admired Ptak’s work, so even after she discontinued The Tig and got ready for royal life, she must have kept her number.
Then, after the news was announced, Ptak herself said in a statement, “I can’t tell you how delighted I am to be chosen to make Prince Harry and Ms. Markle’s wedding cake.” She added, “Knowing that they really share the same values as I do about food provenance, sustainability, seasonality and, most importantly, flavor, makes this the most exciting event to be a part of.”
Like Meghan, Ptak is Californian; she currently lives in London, however. Her bakery there, Violet Cakes, sells American-style desserts that are extremely popular. And the one thing that Ptak likes making most of all is wedding cakes. “Wedding cakes are where I started, and I love that I am now going back to them again after many years turning them down,” she wrote on her Instagram page in April 2017.
And Ptak’s wedding cakes are something to behold. They have a rustic quality to them, and that particular style is something Meghan has always liked. Furthermore, Meghan and Harry reportedly fell in love while the pair were camping in Botswana, so an organic, flower-covered cake with a nod to the outdoors is a rather appropriate choice.
However, the pair’s decision is an unusual one. After all, royal wedding cakes have typically stuck to a strict format. On the whole, they’re large fruit cakes with white icing – very large fruit cakes, in fact. The confection has got to satisfy all the guests, after all. There’s another reason why they’re usually designed like they are too: an old tradition says that the cake ought to last until the christening of the couple’s first baby.
And Prince William and Kate Middleton took the traditional route for their wedding cake when they got married in April 2011. Their eight-tier fruit cake was created by Fiona Cairns, and it was a complicated affair. The decorations included replicas of Sweet Williams – a tribute to the groom – and acorns to represent the Middleton family coat of arms.
The couple did make one small break with what was expected of them, though. As well as the fruit cake, they had an extra dessert made – one containing chocolate cookies. It was called the “groom’s cake” and was a custom borrowed from the U.S. So when it came to tradition, Kate and William got to literally have their cake and eat it too!
In addition, William and Kate arranged to have some slices of the fruitcake stored away for the christening of their first child. That turned out to be Prince George, who was born in July 2013. Fruitcakes are famously long lasting, which is one of the reasons why they’re so popular. And, as it happens, storing slices of Harry and Meghan’s cake may be a little trickier.
But Harry and Meghan’s ceremony was always going to be a little different to the royal weddings that preceded it. “Harry has never been one to follow instructions, and both he and Meghan are extremely independent individuals,” an anonymous source told Us Weekly in January 2018. “I wouldn’t imagine for one second that they plan to sit back and be told what to do.”
Indeed, before Claire Ptak’s involvement with the wedding was even announced, there was speculation that Meghan might choose an unconventional cake. “This could be the very first time where they break with tradition and don’t have a traditional fruitcake,” one-time royal chef Darren McGrady told Entertainment Tonight in December 2017. “It wouldn’t surprise me if Meghan chose a traditional American cake – a layered sponge cake – and found an American baker in London to make it.”
And, of course, McGrady was right. But the cake is set to be far from the only unconventional thing planned for Meghan and Harry’s wedding. Reportedly, Meghan will be having a maid of honor rather than a chief bridesmaid. And rumor has it that she wants her mother, Doria Ragland, to walk her down the aisle rather than her father.
What’s more, Meghan’s managed to smash a few traditions even before the wedding. That’s because royals generally adhere to strict protocol when it comes to their dressing-up; Meghan has relaxed those rules, however. Even in her engagement photos, she did something daring: she wore a sheer dress. And while perhaps some eyebrows were raised among the older royals, the general public largely loved it.
Now that the cake is decided upon, then, practically all attention is on what dress Meghan might choose for the big day. Back in March 2016, when she was starring on the TV show Suits, she spoke to Glamour about a wedding dress she’d had to wear for the show. “Classic and simple is the name of the game, perhaps with a modern twist,” she said in regard to her own style.
Meghan went on, “I personally prefer wedding dresses that are whimsical or subtly romantic. For TV we did have to bring the neckline up a touch per the producers’ request, but the original design has a low ballerina-inspired neckline, and I happen to love that.” Low necklines – now that could be yet another exciting break with tradition.
And like many brides, Meghan is likely counting down the days until her wedding. Then, as soon as she’s married to Prince Harry, she’ll gain her own royal title – perhaps that of duchess. And, afterwards, her new life as a royal will officially start. Perhaps she will end up saving some of the wedding cake for future generations after all?