In early May 1981, Prince Charles was at the White House in Washington with President Reagan when he was presented with a tea bag. And he doesn’t know what to do with it.
Several photos and a video have immortalized their meeting. 1er May 1981, Ronald Reagan receives Prince Charles in the Oval Room at the White House. The son of Queen Elizabeth II, who is about to marry Lady Diana Spencer, is stopping in Washington on an official trip. As an attentive host, the American president then asks his guest if he wants something to drink.
“Oh ! Tea. It would be fantastic”, then replies the Prince of Wales, reports Roland Mesnier in his memoirs published in 2006. French pastry chef at the White House from 1980 to 2004, under the presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush senior, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, he continues the story of this anecdote: “The president rang the Navy Boys, a small restaurant located under the Oval Office. And the Navy boys who didn’t have much experience with these things, brought a tray with a pot of hot water, lemon, a cup in which they had put a tea bag. Prince Charles saw this cup, and did nothing but gaze at it with great concern, without helping himself. Not understanding what was going on but not wanting to further embarrass the heir to the British throne, Ronald Reagan did or said anything.
A dessert adorned with the feathers of the Prince of Wales crest
Then came the evening, and the dinner offered to Prince Charles by the presidential couple of the United States in their private apartments. Dinner of four tables of ten people which ended with “The crown of Prince of Wales sorbets”, the dessert concocted especially for the occasion by Roland Mesnier. Which consisted of sorbets and ice creams in the common colors of the American and English flags – coconut for the white, raspberry for the red and blueberry for the blue – in a mold resembling a crown, with, in the center, three large curved feathers of 30 cm in sugar -evoking those of the emblem of the Prince of Wales-, surrounded by raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and accompanied by petit fours.
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“After dinner, tongues loosened; we knew each other better, we had perhaps drunk a little wine together”, explains the former pastry chef of the White House. Ronald Reagan therefore allows himself to question the prince to understand why, in the morning, he did not use tea. “Was there a problem?” he asks. And Charles replies: “The problem is that I didn’t know what to do with the little bag”. “Nobody had thought that in England, tea, which is a cultural tradition, is served according to an immutable ceremonial: real tea, which is left to infuse in a previously heated teapot and poured into cups. , with the help of a small silver colander”, underlines Roland Mesnier, adding that in fact never in all his life the Prince of Wales had seen a tea bag. “Everyone laughed a lot,” he concludes.