The prime ministers of all Victoria's dominion states were invited to attend a Grand Banquet in Buckingham Palace. None of them had come empty-handed and amongst their gifts, each arrived with an orchid grown in their country.
These were collected into a 9ft floral arrangement in the shape of a crown. It symbolized loud and clear who was the boss, especially since it was positioned behind the Queen's table.
The flowers weren't the only imports that night. Twenty-four chefs had been brought in from Paris, in France, to create dishes fit for the occasion. Apparently they left a short-lived fashion for curled mustaches, amongst the young male apprentices who saw them!
Queen Victoria was quite a fast eater. While banquets were supposed to go on for hours, she could wolf through several courses in just half an hour. It must have caused a lot of diplomatic confusion, as heads of state followed protocol in only eating when she did.
Once the food had all been consumed, it was time for the evening's entertainment. This was a magnificent fireworks display, hosted in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. Victoria was wheeled out in her chair, surrounded by princely escorts, to watch it.
Meanwhile, it wasn't just the rich and noble who were enjoying massive meals. Alexandra, the Princess of Wales, organized a series of charity banquets to give the poor a taste of royal fare. 700 tons of food was prepared by 10,000 waiters, in order to feed over 400,000 impoverished Londoners.
It might have been Princess Alexandra's idea, but the money to fund it came from millionaire Sir William Lipton!
Taking her lead, several cities across the British Empire staged their own banquets for the poor, organized by noble ladies wishing to emulate royalty. No doubt the poor were just glad of the free grub!