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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

A very royal roast!

Updated: Jan 1

Menus from Christmas Day Dinner and New Year's Day Dinner at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, hosted by Her Majesty Queen Victoria.

Any concerns that it is somehow “low brow” to serve Christmas dinner leftovers to guests, are dashed with confirmation that the most regal of dinner hosts, Queen Victoria, served her recycled yuletide dishes for more than a week after Christmas Day.


The two menus appearing on this page from Queen Victoria’s dinner table confirm the aging monarch was a royal version of an 1800s “economising housekeeper”. Large components of Her Majesty’s  Christmas Day dinner reappear on the menu for New Year’s Day; including the roast turkey, chine of pork, mince pies and plum pudding.

Of course there were slightly more royal Christmas ‘leftovers’ including the whole stuffed wild boar’s head, the Foie-Gras terrine and an unprecedentedly giant woodcock pie that all flanked the huge roast baron-of-beef, which was made from the two hind legs of one of Her Majesty’s own shorthorn oxen.

Even Her Majesty’s plum pudding was of such a royal size that slices were cut from it and sent to all her nearest relatives: the first slice in later years was reserved for her imperial grandson-in-law, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and posted to Saint Petersburg in time for the Russian Orthodox Christmas celebrated on the 7th January.

The first menu appearing on this page is for the Christmas dinner in 1894 served to Queen Victoria at her Osborne residence on the Isle of Wight, which is depicted atop the gilt-edged menu-card. The Queen was accompanied by her daughter and son-in-law,  the Prince and Princess of Battenberg, along with the royal grandchildren, the Dowager Lady Churchill and the Duchess of Albany.

Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023

HMS Australia, a Royal Navy cruiser, was stationed as the guardship on the Isle of Wight during the Queen’s stay.

The second menu is from a week later and confirms large amounts of Christmas ‘leftovers’ reappeared at the royal table to kickstart the New Year in 1895.

The table for the Royal Christmas lunch and dinner always featured the very best produce courtesy of royal families from across Europe. The boar’s head was usually a gift from either the Emperor of Germany or the King of Saxony while the Tsar of Russia sent some imperial sturgeons.

The Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin would send the finest terrine of Pâté de Foie Gras, which was encased in pastry to look like a giant pork pie, and the Emperor of Austria would send a dozen bottles of Tokay wine from his personal vineyards.

In return, Queen Victoria would send out 200 Christmas puddings made at Windsor Castle to all her relatives and leading families of Europe. For these, the royal kitchens drained 24 bottles of brandy.

“I went to see the roasting in the kitchen of turkeys, geese, and beef a mighty sight : at least fifty turkeys before one fire”, recounted Viscount Torrington, a Lord-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria.

“The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland”, continued the Viscount, “by custom or law, sends over every year a large woodcock pie. This one is composed of one hundred birds”.

Because the kitchens at Osborne were too small to cook the Christmas feast, all the main dishes were prepared at Windsor Castle and sent by royal yacht to arrive at Osborne on Christmas Eve. The dinner started at 9pm and concluded with pots and stilton cheese and plates of fruit in the off-chance guests could still be feeling hungry

Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023

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