Search results

Start typing

A set of silver-gilt plates; the reeded rim cast with fruiting vines and scallop shells. The plate is engraved with the Royal coat of arms, with supporters, mantling and coronet.
The Grand Service

George IV's spectacular silver-gilt dining service and buffet

PHILIP RUNDELL (1746-1827)

The Shield of Achilles


RCIN 51266

Many of the pieces in the Grand Service were not intended for dining but rather for decorative display as part of the buffet. Traditionally a buffet was intended as a means of impressing guests with the wealth and power of the monarch. In 1517 the Venetian Ambassador to the court of Henry VIII described seeing a 'buffet 30 feet in length, 20 feet high, with silver vases and vases of gold, worth vast treasure, none of which was touched'.

George IV created extraordinarily lavish buffets using the Grand Service. Among the pieces he ordered was this Shield of Achilles – an enormous piece of silver gilt, 90cm in diameter and cast with Apollo in his chariot riding forth from the centre. It was prominently displayed on the buffet at his coronation banquet in 1821, a tradition that was continued by later monarchs.

Today, the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace is decorated with two large buffets of silver gilt from the Grand Service during State Banquets. On display are huge dishes like this one decorated with biblical or mythological scenes, as well as monumental flasks, jewelled cups, ivory tankards, silver-gilt bowls and dishes.

    The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.