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Preparations for a State Banquet at Windsor Castle

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

Preparations for a State Banquet at Windsor Castle March 2008

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Over 2,000 pieces of cutlery are used during a State Banquet and the Grand Service includes pieces for every course and foodstuff that might be served. Among the more obscure items in the Service are marrow scoops, ice spades and olive spoons.

In preparation for a State Banquet the table is laid by staff from the Silver and China Pantries using precise measurements to align each piece. A place for each guest is set with two knives and forks, with a dessert spoon and fork above. To the left of each place are a porcelain side plate, a silver butter knife and a small glass butter dish. The plates are not laid on the table as they are heated in advance of the banquet ready for the first course. Each guest shares a salt, mustard pot and pepper caster with their neighbour. In the centre of the table are candelabra, mirror plateaux and dessert stands from the Grand Service.