Queen Elizabeth’s 85th birthday to be celebrated in royal style

Raising fine china in preparation for Queen Elizabeth II’s upcoming 85th birthday are Mandy Kray

Raising fine china in preparation for Queen Elizabeth II’s upcoming 85th birthday are Mandy Kray

Former Blethering Place operator plans to continue tradition of marking the occasion

She won’t be there to blow out her birthday candles.

But then again, Queen Elizabeth has her grandson’s wedding to prepare for a week after she turns 85.

While worldwide anticipation is growing for the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29, Victoria branch members of the Monarchist League of Canada don’t want the birthday to pass unnoticed in all the excitement.

It is hosting a public birthday tea on April 10, although the queen’s actual birthday is April 21.

It will be the fifth year for the Victoria branch to throw a birthday bash “to recognize what the queen does as a sovereign and as a person,” said Colleen Mills, branch chair.

“She does an incredible amount of work,” Mills said. “She’s an admirable person, just in herself.”

When Ken Agate was owner of the Blethering Place in Oak Bay, he hosted a celebration on all the Queen’s significant birthdays, such as her 70th and 80th.

“People looked to us to do these types of things. They wanted to be part of something important to do with the U.K.,” he said.

Although Agate sold the tearoom this year, he still intends to take in the Monarchist League celebration. And on April 21, he and former staffer Joan Stein “will get out the best china” and pour a cup of tea in the Queen’s honour.

The Monarchist League’s party this year will feature a historical component.

Mandy Kray, owner and tour director of Walk Abouts Historical Tours at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, will take party-goers back through time to the Edwardian era of 1901 to 1910.

Wearing an ornate royal blue gown and wide-brimmed hat with feathers on top, Kray will speak on 103 years of tea and stories at the hotel.

“I’m excited because we talk about the royal family quite a bit on the tour,” she said.

As partygoers nibble on finger sandwiches and little cakes and sip tea and coffee, Kray will speak on tradition surrounding afternoon tea.

“It’s all about presentation and conversation,” she said of the custom’s importance.

The special occasion will also serve as an important fundraiser for the Monarchist League branch as it prepares to host public events in 2012 and 2013 celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, that is, 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

The birthday party happens April 10 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at the Embassy Inn, located at 520 Menzies St. Advance tickets are $18 for Monarchist League members, $20 for non-members, and are available by calling 250-656-0853.

– with files from Vivian Moreau


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