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The Queen

A bittersweet reminder of the past heading to The Queen’s breakfast table

The Queen, Elizabeth II
Royal Family You Tube still/ fair use

The Queen is about to get a sugar coated reminder of royal history that packs an unexpected punch. A tradition which led to bittersweet Seville oranges being sent to Buckingham Palace every year in the form of marmalade has been revived, after almost a gap of almost a century.

Until the early 20th century, a selection of the famous oranges grown around the royal residence at the Alcazar of Seville was gifted to the Palace. No one knows why the custom stopped but a local official in Seville with an eye for history helped revive it and now a shipment of marmalade is on its way to The Queen.

Speaking to Spanish newspaper, El Diario de Sevilla, the current director of the Alcazar, Isabel Rodriguez, revealed the custom was revived in 2020 when the honorary UK consul in Seville, Joe Cooper, was presented with 20 kilos of oranges from the gardens of the Spanish palace which were sent on to the British Ambassador in Madrid, Hugh Elliott. He oversaw them being turned into marmalade which was then sent on to The Queen. The same gift has been made again this year with Hugh Elliott sending a handwritten note of thanks to the Alcazar.

There are many legends surrounding the orange trees at the Alcazar, the famous palace begun in the 12th century and which is still the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family when they are in Seville. Peter III of Castile is said to have planted the first bittersweet oranges in the palace gardens in the 14th century and one of his original trees is still said to stand in the grounds although some experts believe the specimen in question was actually planted in the 16th century.

The Queen’s fondness for marmalade at breakfast is well documented.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.