Food & Wine
“Prince Charles wasn’t happy”: Royal cake-maker spills on Charles and Diana’s wedding creation
Dave Avery, the man who designed and made Prince Charles and Diana's wedding cake for their big day, has revealed it was the prince who called him to make changes to the design – after Diana had approved it.
The head baker of the Royal Naval Cookery School, Avery designed the couple's five-tier fruit cake which stood at 165cm for the July wedding 40 years ago in 1981.
Avery, then 37, had been selected to bake the royal wedding cake – an auspicious task but one that he was more than capable of. Avery, now 78, told 9Honey via Zoom from the UK, he still clearly remembers walking into Buckingham Palace for his first meeting with Princess Diana – known at the time as ‘Lady Di.’
“I’ll never forget it," says Avery. "She was beautiful. She was very pleasant, very polite, we had a few little chats.”
Avery had been given the task of designing the wedding cake and he’d gone to the palace to show his plans to Diana. She had approved the designs with no changes but when Avery arrived back at the Royal Navy Cookery School in Chatham, he received word from the palace that Prince Charles was not happy.
"I got a phone call that Prince Charles wasn't happy," says Avery. But thankfully, it wasn't a criticism but rather – something the Prince wanted added.
"We hadn't put on the Red Dragon," says Avery. Once we added the Red Dragon symbol of Wales, which was Prince Charles' call sign when he was flying helicopters with the Navy, the Prince was happy.
The cake’s design included hand-painted symbols representing Prince Charles' military roles, the Prince of Wales emblem, St Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and Highgrove – one of which took eight hours to complete.
How big was this Wedding Cake of the Century?
The five-tier cake stood at 165cm and took some time to bake with the bottom tier alone taking Avery 12 hours. As well, Avery used a spirit level and set square to ensure the dimensions were perfect.
He was sworn to secrecy during the 14-week process of designing and making the cake and says the pressure was on to get everything perfect: "If there was anything wrong, the whole world would have known about it, not just me," he says.
When it came to the baking of the cake, Avery turned to a favourite recipe he had from his mother for a rich fruit cake.
"But I had to take things out and add things in to improve it. I had worked on that recipe for up to five years until I got it absolutely perfect."
As perfect as it is, Avery says he won’t be sharing this recipe: “I’ve been asked many times, but no,” he adds.
The Wedding of the Century
2021 marks 40 years since Prince Charles married Diana Spencer at St Paul's Cathedral on July 29th - a wedding which drew a global television audience of more than 750 million people.
A new documentary has been made to mark the occasion which will screen on BritBox Australia, aptly titled Wedding of the Century.
The original documentary includes remastered footage of the wedding plus never-before-seen interviews with those closely involved in the wedding planning, including the florist and one of the photographers.
Was it all successful?
After the wedding, Avery received a letter from the new Prince and Princess of Wales saying "how thrilled they were with the cake."
They even saved the second tier to use at Prince William's christening on August 4th, 1982. Diana loved Avery's work so much she asked him to make William's first birthday cake, too, "a sponge with nursery rhymes around it.”
These days Avery has retired from the Royal Navy after serving for 22 years. He went on to open a cake shop, baking wedding cakes (naturally) before going back into teaching.
As Avery says: "It's the wedding of the century, it's the cake of the century.”
Image: Getty Images