Expert shares surprising ways Royal Family enjoy afternoon tea – ‘Queen eats with fingers’

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Afternoon tea is a popular activity among Britons, especially during the summer months. This year, many families will be gathering together for afternoon tea to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – even the Royal Family itself. But how do they eat their afternoon tea?

Mark Hepton, resident afternoon tea expert at The Cairn Collection’s Stoke Place Hotel, has revealed the correct way to enjoy an afternoon tea.

His top tips to eat afternoon tea in the same way as the Royal Family include five do’s and don’ts.

He advised: “While there are lots of savoury and sweet treats to sample at an afternoon tea, it’s royal etiquette to try each of the sandwiches first then move on to the rest.”

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“According to royal experts, at an afternoon tea the cream should always be spread on the scone first, followed by the jam,” Mark said.

He went on to list other do’s, saying: “Avoid talking with your mouth full or taking large bites.

“While it sounds like a no-brainer, small bites for food are key to royal afternoon tea etiquette.”

Other etiquette tips include placing your napkin on the chair when you leave the table.

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Mark explained: “If you need to leave the table, always place your napkin on the chair and never on the table until you are finished with your tea service.”

A piece of etiquette advice that might surprise some people is “eat with your fingers”.

“Even the Queen likes to eat with her fingers,” Mark said.

“Instead of opting for a fancy knife and fork, put them down and enjoy the bite-sized finger food in true royal style.”

As for the don’ts of a royal afternoon tea, Mark said: “Keep the table completely clear ready for tea service – this includes everything from phones, keys, and sunglasses.”

He continued: “According to royal experts, it’s bad etiquette to hold the teacup by the base.

“Instead, make sure to hold it by the handle to display good manners.”

Another thing to remember while drinking tea: don’t fill the cup to the brim.

“We all love a cuppa, but there’s enough to go around,” Mark noted.

“Instead of filling your cup to the brim, pour yourself a modest amount and go back for seconds.

“Similarly, never leave your spoon in your teacup. Tap the spoon on the side of your cup and place this on your saucer ready for your next use.”

Lastly, Mark warned against “dunking food in your cup”, saying: “While it can be tempting to dunk a delicious biscuit in your cup of tea, this is best left at home if attending a royal afternoon tea.”

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