Royal Ladies Who Lunch Take Tea At Fortnum's

Mark Stone, Sky News reporter
Philip And Kate Join Queen On Jubilee Tour

The Queen, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall have taken tea at London department store Fortnum & Mason in their first joint royal engagement.

They went there to officially rename a restaurant within the shop on Piccadilly and to meet some of those who worked in the store at the time of the coronation.

The Queen , Kate and Camilla arrived in the same car and dressed in different shades of blue.

Her Majesty chose a pale blue suit with a matching hat designed by Angela Kelly.

Camilla was dressed in a navy blue and white wool crepe coat and dress by Bruce Oldfield. She added a brooch in the shape of a Welsh leek to mark St David's Day.

Kate wore a mid-blue above-the-knee Missoni coat and smiled broadly as she chatted to the gathered dignitaries including London Mayor Boris Johnson .

It was the first time the three have been on an official engagement together - apart from events such as the Royal Wedding, Trooping the Colour and Christmas church services.

Given the relatively unpublicised nature of the visit to the world famous store, a large crowd gathered on Piccadilly.

Most were there to catch a glimpse of the royal trio, but there was a small protest against foie gras sales at Fortnum & Mason.

"We were just going to see Buckingham Palace and somebody told us that the Queen was just inside here", said one overexcited French tourist.

A number of onlookers refused to appear on camera because they said they were supposed to be at work but could not resist a glimpse.

Inside the store, the royals met staff and former employees including some who worked at the shop during the coronation.

The Queen spent time in the preserve section, discussing honey with one member of staff. She was given a pot of honey made from hives on the roof of the shop.

She was asked if she would have it in the mornings on toast. "Yes" she replied with a smile.

The focus for Kate and Camilla was the sweet section. They were talked through a huge array of chocolates and sweets by chocolatier Itesh Patel.

Camilla asked if she could have a jelly bean. Kate remarked it was "definitely the naughty counter".

Mr Patel told Sky News: "The Duchess of Cambridge had a rose petal which she tasted and said was really delightful.

"I said she should buy a rose petal and put it in champagne. It tastes wonderful so she said she's going to try that."

A tea party was held at the newly-named Diamond Jubilee Tea Station on the store's fourth floor. The royal visitors inspected a cake made to commemorate the visit.

They also met servicemen due to head to Afghanistan soon.

They are involved in a gifts for troops scheme in which 15,000 troops will receive a commemorative Fortnum & Mason tin containing the store's Queen Anne tea and clotted cream digestive biscuits to enjoy over the Diamond Jubilee weekend.

The Queen was also introduced to recipients of grants from the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) - the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders Association.

QEST makes awards ranging up to £15,000 to craftsmen and women of all ages to help them further their careers.

Next week, with her husband Prince William still away in the Falklands, the Duchess of Cambridge will join the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh for a larger public engagement in Leicester.

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