Diana’s 40 year old cake

October 1, 2021


A slice of 40-year-old cake from Princess Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles recently sold at auction for $2,600, which is amazing, considering it was fruitcake. I’m completely shocked because I wouldn’t give you a buck-fifty for a truckload of fruitcakes. My raisin phobia runs deep. 

Grandmother wasn’t sure about my choice of husband from New Jersey, until he told her how much he loved her fruitcake. After that, he was her favorite — even ahead of me. The two of them would eat fruitcake every Christmas with their heads close together, whispering about the cake like it was their secret club ritual. 

In November, she’d tell him, “I need a little bit of . . . you know, for the fruitcake.” Making the forbidden purchase out of town for her, so as not to raise eyebrows, the hooch would appear, and the Baptist baking would begin. 

To us, serving fruitcake at a wedding is nuttier than a. . . . well, you get it. But as the British are fond of following spectacular customs involving coronations, crowns and carriages, it’s a traditional thing for them to souse up the cake and load it with dried shriveled fruit. It’s a sign of good luck. I guess Charles and Diana were a pound low on plums.

Wedding cake trends come and go, and my cake in the 1990’s was topped with fresh flowers, although now I wish I would have borrowed my parent’s little 1950’s bride and groom. They were the classic tiny couple who stood beneath an arch of silk flowers and would have lent an air of nostalgia and family connection. 

Remember these?

I can’t criticize today’s wedding cakes too much because I have a son who is planning a wedding and don’t want to seem like I’m meddling (me? never!). Today’s cake trends include vines swirling down the layers, cookies stuck to the sides, and skinny Dr. Seuss confections.

The “naked cake” trend looks like the dog licked the icing off the side. And if you like little icing roses, you’re out of luck. Those are the current fuddy-duddies of the baking world. 

There’s also the trend of giving each guest a small individual cake, but isn’t that just a cupcake?

The hand painted designs on some wedding cakes are stunning but the main question is, does it taste good? Buttery, fluffy, spongy and sweet are important qualities. No one around here is expecting firewater flavor loaded with dried apricots. That’s for the royals. 

I followed an old-fashioned custom and gave all the single ladies at my wedding a slice of cake to take home in a decorated wax-lined bag. Tradition stated that if she placed the cake beneath her pillow that night, she’d dream of the man she would marry. She also woke up with icing in her hair — or if she was smart, a midnight snack. 

But 40 year old cake? As much as I adored Princess Diana, I just don’t think I’d be interested in having her dusty old fruitcake sit around the house. What about her dress? Oh, yes! I’d dearly love that. But then again, who wouldn’t want to swish around the house dragging a 25 foot train? That makes perfect sense. 

This story first appeared in AL.com newspapers

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  1. Hilarious, Leslie Anne! I’m with your grandmother, though, already thinking about gathering my supplies for fruitcake baking day including a new bottle of Calvados. Will bake extra this year as we ran out before Easter. I hadn’t seen this about Diana’s wedding cake being sold, I love it! And every good English novel has fruitcake being made year round. Is that your wedding cake? Beautiful! I haven’t read about the new trends in wedding cakes but I did read that next year will be a record year for weddings. I hope so. I haven’t been to a wedding in far too long!

    1. Hey there, you fruitcake lover! No, that’s not my cake, and yes, with a son getting married, we’ve found that everyone who wanted to get married last year, postponed the event due to COVID and now they are all scrambling for churches, bands, bakers and dresses! True love always finds a way, so we’re not worried a bit.

  2. My wedding cake, fresh flowers on top, icing roses all around, didn’t taste all that great the night of the wedding, and for sure the top layer my Mom froze for a year didn’t taste good at all on our first anniversary. I can’t imagine what a forty year old piece of cake would taste like. Blech.

    I never liked fruitcake until I found a recipe that called for only cherries and dates. None of that nasty fruitcake mix with citron in it and no raisins. Just cherries, dates, pecans and coconut. I imagine fruitcake purists would turn up their noses, but that just means more for me!

    Totally agree with your assessment of the naked cake trend.

    Went to a wedding this summer that featured a four tier, four flavored, fully frosted cake. Chocolate, lemon raspberry, amaretto funfetti and vanilla funfetti. The bride told me she got push back on having funfetti cake, but she stuck to her guns! Good for her! Tasted great!

    1. A funfetti cake is very funny, and I’m sure it reflected the bride’s personality, which is perfect! People love cake of all sorts, so it’s a fun tradition of sweetness for sure!

  3. Can’t stand the fruitcake but remember those cakes with the staircases linking all the tiers together. We thought they were so regal. What did we know?

    1. Yes, I remember standing with other little girls staring wide-eyed at the staircase cakes. The little bridesmaids usually matched the real bridesmaids dresses. It was quite a show-stopper! – Thanks Tanna.

  4. I don’t care for most fruitcake either, but there is a sort of fruitcake like cookie that tastes really good.

        1. A dollop? I think I know exactly what you mean. Our inside Southern language wins again. “If I make a cookie that’s more like a dollop, I’ll wear a flowery dress with a thing-a-ma-jig pulling my hair back.” – we understand.

  5. I love the “Baptist bakeoff!” I am not a fan of fruitcake or raisins either, nasty stuff! And I don’t understand why anyone would pay for a slice of old celebrity cake, that’s just ridiculous! My daughter doesn’t like cake so she had tiramisu. Have fun with the wedding plans, I know it’s hard to be MOG {mother of the groom} and keep your lips zipped!

    1. We need to invent raisins that taste like something good . . . like chocolate. OH! I THINK TOLLHOUSE ALREADY DID! Thanks, Jenna.

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