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Chefs prepare 10,000 canapes for royal couple's wedding reception

By Max Foster, CNN
  • Chefs at Buckingham Palace are preparing around 10,000 canapes for the royal wedding reception
  • There will be no buffet meal as some reports have suggested
  • 21 chefs will prepare 10 or 12 savoury and five or six sweet varieties of canapes for guests

London, England (CNN) -- Guests at Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton are expected to devour almost 10,000 canapes at the lunchtime reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.

The 600 guests invited back to Buckingham Palace after the royal wedding will be served with canapes in the spectacular state rooms.

This will certainly be no "buffet," as has been reported. Canapes, I have been informed, are delicious morsels that can be eaten in one bite. They are also served as people stand, while a buffet would require guests to carry a plate and, perish the thought, serve themselves.

CNN has learned that a team of 21 chefs will prepare nearly 10,000 bite-sized snacks. There will be 10 or 12 savoury varieties and five or six sweet ones. Some will be hot, some will be cold -- and all have been approved by the prince and his bride-to-be.

Preparing for the royal wedding reception

Producing so many tempting and elegant canapes is a challenge for the Buckingham Palace staff.

The Royal Chef, Mark Flanagan says, "Any canape event is about fine detail at the last minute. There's a lot of preparation but there's lots that we would like to do earlier that we really can't do until we see the guests coming into the room.

"It will be about double checking, triple checking and checking again and making sure that we've got everything in the right places."

The canapes will be laid out on trays and carried from the kitchens in the basement to the state rooms in the west wing overlooking the garden. Guests will be standing with drinks already in hand as a team of 60 hospitality staff wait on them attentively.

The 19 state rooms which are used during state functions drip with opulence. They really are intended to make people think, 'Wow this is an incredible palace.'
--Jennifer Scott, Assistant Curator of Paintings.

I understand that reception guests will include senior British politicians, Commonwealth Prime Ministers, Governors General of the realms and most royal heads of state.

Close family and friends are also invited and will go on to a sit-down dinner and dance in the evening hosted by Prince Charles.

While the guests circulate, congratulate the couple and make high-level smalltalk, they'll also get to see arguably the finest private art collection in the world, with Canalettos, Van Dykes and Rembrandts all on show.

Jennifer Scott, Assistant Curator of Paintings says, "The 19 state rooms which are used during state functions drip with opulence. They really are intended to make people think, 'Wow this is an incredible palace.'

"That's very much part of its history," she continued. "This is a palace that was intended to impress."

Everything about the reception is designed to impress the guests. I was shown how an antique measuring stick is used to make sure wine glasses sit a certain distance from the edge of the table so they are all lined up perfectly.

Edward Griffiths, Deputy Master of the Household says, "For any event, we [go] through every single detail that we possibly can, so it's planned in advance and we don't leave anything to chance."

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During this most exclusive of wedding receptions, the public will get one last opportunity to see the newlyweds. At 1:30pm local time, the prince and his bride will come out on the balcony at the front of Buckingham Palace for the "wedding kiss."

More than a million people are expected to fill out the road in front of the palace to witness what's set to become an iconic moment in British history.

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