Jam or cream: Princess Kate weighs in on UK’s great scone debate

Publish Date
Thursday, 6 July 2023, 12:56PM
Britain's Prince William and Kate, Princess of Wales, arrive by carriage to the Royal Ascot horse racing meet. Photo / AP

Britain's Prince William and Kate, Princess of Wales, arrive by carriage to the Royal Ascot horse racing meet. Photo / AP

It is a recurring debate about a quintessentially British tea time favourite, and now members of the royal family have given their views on whether to go jam or cream first.

The Princess of Wales has waded into the heated argument about the proper way to make a scone by divulging which side she takes.

She revealed that she has been following in the culinary footsteps of Queen Elizabeth II, who preferred to put a blob of jam on her scone before the cream, also known as the Cornish method.

The rival method, from Devon, traditionally places clotted cream on the scone first and then the jam. These two methods continuously divide Britons over which one is tastier.

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The Princess’s revelation does not mark the first time that the royal family has been at the centre of the contentious British debate.

In 2020, the institution inadvertently entered into the argument by sharing a recipe for scones which unmistakably saw chefs use one method over the other.

The recipe, used by the royal pastry chefs for the late Queen’s garden parties, plumped for the Devonshire method of scone consumption: cream first, and then a blob of jam.

However, at a Big Tea party to mark the 75th anniversary of the NHS on Wednesday, the Princess said: “I always do jam and then cream”.

Her comments came after the Prince of Wales asked co-host of the tea party Mel Giedroyc, former Great British Bake Off presenter, where she stood on the debate.

“I go jam then cream because I think jam is heavier and then the cream sits,” the television presenter and actress replied.

The Prince then quipped: “I go with whichever is closest to me to start off”.

The royal couple were at the tea party to surprise NHS staff and patients celebrating the anniversary, including 75-year-old Aneira “Nye” Thomas, the first baby born on the NHS, who was named after its founder.

The guest list also included three generations of NHS workers from one family – inspired by grandmother and former nurse of nearly 50 years, Blanche Hines, who was part of the Windrush generation.

The event was hosted by NHS Charities Together, which the Prince and Princess of Wales are patrons of, as well as Giedroyc.

The former Eurovision presenter said it was an “utter privilege” to be involved, adding that people were “so delighted” by the “quintessentially lovely, British day”.

The royal couple arrived early to help lay the tables and put the finishing touches on a birthday cake before they attempted to settle the long-standing scone debate.

The late Queen traditionally opted to have her scones the Cornish way, with homemade jam first then clotted cream on top, according to her former chef.

Darren McGrady, a chef who worked for the Royal family from 1982 to 1993, previously insisted that Queen Elizabeth II “always had homemade Balmoral jam first with clotted cream on top at Buckingham Palace garden parties in the royal tea tent and all royal tea parties”.

The King, meanwhile, suggested in 2018 that he follows the Cornish method too after he asked a young boy holding scones with cream first and jam on top: “Have you got that the right way round?”

The Prince and Princess of Wales visited Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in May ahead of the NHS anniversary on Wednesday. Now entering its sixth year, the NHS Big Tea raises funds to provide support for staff, patients, and volunteers.

Dr Neil Rees, a consultant clinical psychologist leading the staff wellbeing programme at Guy’s and St Thomas’, which benefited from NHS charity funding, said: “The Prince of Wales was very mindful of the support that’s been given by NHS charities and how essential that is, and really understood the issues and complexities, particularly with the current challenges we’re facing.

“The pandemic shone a light on the needs of staff, but he was keen to talk about how we maintain the care roles like mine provide, and how charities play a major role in that. It was incredibly special to be recognised in that way.”

Scone or scone?

The Prince of Wales may have inadvertently settled the score on the pronunciation of the British afternoon tea staple, which is also a matter of fierce debate in the UK.

During his visit to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NHS, he pronounced “scone” as rhyming with “gone” rather than “cone”.

While the pronunciation usually varies depending on region, many view the longer vowel sound of scone as a posh affectation.

A YouGov survey conducted in 2016 revealed that most of the nation also follow the Prince’s pronunciation, with 51 per cent of Britons pronouncing it “skon”, while 42 per cent say scone as rhyming with “bone”.

The same survey showed that more people in the north of England (60 per cent) and Scotland (80 per cent) use the “skon” pronunciation compared to the Midlands (56 per cent) and London (50 per cent).

In the University of Cambridge’s The Great Scone Map, pronunciation followed a discernible pattern across the country, with “skon” predominating in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England.

The Britons who rhymed it with “bone” or “cone”, on the other hand, were found to be typically in the Midlands or southern Ireland, with the rest of the country using a mixture of the two.

-Daily Telegraph UK

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