The Extraordinary Journey Of Queen Elizabeth's Wedding Cake

As tributes pour in for Queen Elizabeth II, who died on September 8, fans are looking back at some of the monarch's most iconic moments. And on November 20, 1947, then-Princess Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten in a ceremony that can only be described as epic. 

It was a moment of sweetness in the wake of WWII, when such moments were especially dear. We often think of royals as exempt from financial restrictions, but such was not the case for Elizabeth. Rationing was still in effect in the U.K., posing an obstacle in the making of both her dress and her wedding cake, notes House and Garden.

Elizabeth was gifted an additional 200 ration coupons to assist in making her dress, but she had to return the coupons that had been donated, as giving and receiving them was illegal (per British Heritage). Still, designer Normal Hartnell rose to the challenge, creating a silk gown with a bejeweled train several yards long, inspired by a Botticelli painting. 

Still, even royal brides can have royal bad luck. Elizabeth's tiara broke the morning of the wedding, and she left her family heirloom pearls back at St. James Palace (per The Court Jeweler). Though the royal jeweler fixed the tiara in time for the ceremony, the pearl necklaces didn't make it there — but she received them in time for her portrait session, so official history was none the wiser (unassuming Elizabeth even did her own makeup for the occasion). But what about her wedding cake?

The fruitcake everyone wanted to be part of

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip's wedding cake was no ordinary affair. Confectioner Fredrik Schur of McVitie and Price Ltd. had created a vision of a 500-lb., 9-foot-high fruitcake of complex design and multiple tiers, selected from 11 possible options. The tiers were elaborate and decorative, depicting both the history of the couple, their family, and their respective shields and crests. 

But the cake faced challenges not unlike Elizabeth's dress. How could all of the ingredients be assembled in such lean times? Where there's a will, there's a way, especially for a couple as cherished and an occasion as momentous as this one. The necessary dried fruits, nuts, spices, and liquors were all donated from South Africa and Australia and flown to the U.K., where the couple's wedding cake became known as the "10,000-mile cake," notes Cordon Bleu. According to House and Garden, every single girl in the Girl Guides of Australia contributed something. The cake lived up to its promise; the magnificent creation fed 2,000 guests.

The Girl Guides' sacrifice wasn't lost on the newlyweds, either. In gratitude, they sent an entire tier of the cake back to their Australian donors (per House and Garden). Their fruitcake was a recipe for happiness, for royals and regular folk alike.