At William and Kate's christening celebration for Prince George last week, the Middletons and members of the royal family were treated to a slice of fruitcake that was cut from the top of the couple's eight-tiered wedding cake.
Fiona Cairns, the creator behind the masterpiece, caught up with HELLO! at the launch of Quintessentially Weddings' new Atelier. The royal baker spoke about her pride at making the cake, the "lovely and creative" Duchess of Cambridge and how she almost didn't recognise Prince William.
Fiona has previously revealed that at the time of the 2011 nuptials, three tiers of the cake were removed — two of which were "for the future" — hinting of siblings to come for Prince George.
Did you know that William and Kate were going to save a tier for the christening?
"We were always told that the cake would be saved for the future so we did assume. The past week has been so exciting for us. It's always been a tradition and that's why the cake was fruitcake, because after 30 months it's even more delicious."
How did the first meeting, discussing the wedding cake, with William and Kate go?
"I am ashamed to say that I was so nervous at that very first meeting that I walked straight past Prince William. I didn't even see him. I was walking up the staircase and someone said to me, 'You just walked past Prince William.' He wasn't facing me but I just didn't notice him. William wasn't at that first meeting, but Kate was. I brought some mood boards and sample boards of piping and flowers, and we spoke a lot about recipe development."
How much input did Kate have in the design of the cake?
"The whole cake was — not just the cake but the wedding — was Kate's idea. It was all her idea. She's a very creative person and that's why it was so special. A lot of people thought the royal wedding was a very grand affair but it was also very personal. "Kate is just as lovely as everyone thinks. She's exactly as you'd imagine, a really lovely person. She gave me a list of 17 different flowers and leaves that she wanted on the cake, and told me afterwards that she didn't mean all 17. I was thinking, 'How am I going to make heather and lavender and sweet Williams?' She wasn't expecting it at all. Each flower had a meaning to her and every part of the cake was very personal. We were given a piece of lace from her dress, but we didn't know it at the time, so we copied that onto the cake."
How did William and Kate like the finished piece?
"I did hear from Kate personally after the wedding, when the cake and her dress later went on display at Buckingham Palace. We met then, but on the actual day of the wedding I had a phone call from the Queen's pastry chef saying that the cake was beyond William and Kate's expectations. So it was then, and only then, that we drank the champagne and breathed a sigh of relief. No matter what anyone else said or thought mattered."
Was the royal wedding cake the one you're most proud of?
"Yes, although saying that, when you create a wedding cake you're not just creating a cake, you're creating memories. It's a symbolic part of the big day so everybody's cake is important — it's their dream. But from our point of view, William and Kate's was the most challenging. One of the hardest things was to walk away from it. We finished it in the Picture Gallery at the palace, the day before the wedding, and then took the official pictures and then we had to walk away. After all those weeks and the emotion that had gone into it, and then to leave it there — it was quite difficult, not sad, just difficult."
Did you have a back-up plan in case anything went wrong on the day?
"We had spare parts, in case there was an accident, but I'm delighted to say that everything went according to plan. It wasn't just about the making of the cake, but also the logistics and bringing it down from the Midlands where our business is based. "I can't pretend it wasn't nerve-wracking. One person said, 'You'll look back at it with enjoyment'. It is lovely to look back on. I can remember all our emotions. It was a huge honour to be asked but it was also scary, not frightening, but overwhelming. That's why I try to pretend to myself that it wasn't an important part of the wedding but of course it was."
How has the royal wedding affected your business?
"We've become very much more known. We were already quite known in London, and we sell to Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason. The business always began at the kitchen table making bespoke cakes and we have a reputation and a name for that, but now we're much more known. We've had press interest from all corners of the globe. Most of the interest came from America, second from Brazil and also France — you name it, every country. We weren't really prepared for it at the beginning, although now we are. We did interviews and television appearances. It was very exciting but we had to concentrate on cake making. That was more important."