A north Northumberland Women’s Institute member had pride of place as the Queen gave the Royal seal of approval to the organisation’s centenary celebrations.
Pat Tulip, from Bilton, near Alnmouth, stood just behind the Queen as she cut a special cake for the WI’s 100th anniversary.
The Howick WI treasurer was one of two trustees on the National Federation of Women’s Institutes’ board chosen to bake enough fruit cakes to feed the 5,000 delegates at the centenary annual general meeting at the Royal Albert Hall.
The Queen shared a joke with the Princess Royal and the Countess of Wessex as she tried to cut into the rich cake.
Princess Anne stepped in to help after the Queen joked that she knew it was a fruit cake because it was so hard to cut and pretended to struggle with the ceremonial knife.
Julie Clarke, 67, chairwoman of the WI’s North Yorkshire West Federation, whose recipe was chosen for the cakes, said: “It was a rich fruit cake and she was guaranteeing it was definitely a fruit cake by trying to cut to the bottom. The rich fruit cake needs some cutting and she just got a bit of assistance from Anne to get the knife through.”
Portions of the cakes were initially due to be left on the seats of those attending the event.
However, because the boxes had sponsors’ names on and the Royal Albert Hall charges a fee for sponsors’ commercial products to be promoted within the building, they were given out after the meeting.
In a speech to the meeting, the Queen praised the WI for continuing to grow and evolve with its members.
She said so much had changed for women in British society but the WI has been a constant throughout.
The monarch, who became a member of Sandringham WI in 1943, congratulated members on the ‘significant occasion’.
The Queen also received the WI’s commemorative baton, which has been travelling to some of the WI’s 6,600 branches across 69 federations in England, Wales, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
The centenary baton was designed to celebrate the friendship and community between the organisation’s 212,000 members.
On Tuesday, hundreds of WI members attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace to mark the centenary, attended by the Duchess of Cornwall, the Countess of Wessex, Princess Alexandra and the Duchess of Gloucester.
For full story, see Thursday’s Gazette.