'I said Anne, can you help your mother?': Memories of Queen cutting cake at Women's Institute event

  • Video report by Kris Jepson

A farmer from North Yorkshire has recalled the moment a crowd at an event marking 100 years of the Women's Institute dissolved into giggles when she made a royal faux pas.

Julie Clarke, from Leyburn and a member of the North Yorkshire West branch of the WI, had won a baking competition with her Yorkshire fruit cake and the Queen requested to meet the winning baker.

Ms Clarke said: "You can really see that everybody on this photograph is laughing. Even the Queen. I mean it was such a happy occasion."

The event, held at the Royal Albert Hall in London in June, 2015, was also attended by the Queen's daughter, Princess Anne and the Queen's daughter-in-law, Sophie, Countess of Wessex.

Julie said when it came to the Queen cutting the cake, everyone was left in fits of giggles.

She said: "I handed her the knife. She was unable to really get the knife in and pull it down as you would. Princess Anne was at my lefthand side, so I just elbowed Princess Anne.

"I said ‘Anne, will you help your mother?’ And of course one isn’t supposed to address the Queen as ‘mother’ in public, but anyway, that’s what caused all the great laughter and the cake was cut."

Cake to celebrate 100 years of the WI. Credit: PA

Ms Clarke said she was "honoured and privileged" to have met the Queen at the event and remembered how the monarch put her at ease, realising she was nervous.

She said: "She was certainly sincere. She wanted to know where, obviously, I had come from and she was interested to know if I personally did an awful lot of baking.

"We had a chatter and it’s quite true exactly what many people have said, when you’re talking to the Queen, even though there’s no end of people around, you feel as though she’s talking to you alone.

"And of course, she wanted to know where the recipe had come from and I said ‘it was a traditional Yorkshire fruit cake recipe, what else, coming from Yorkshire?’"

Proud of the WI's connection to Queen Elizabeth II, Ms Clarke added: "We within the movement are so proud of having her as part of the membership and I don’t know whether you know this, but the WI, if you turn the letters round they become ‘Inspiring Women’.

"We feel that the Queen has been an inspiring woman within our movement since we started to use the terminology Inspiring Women for the WI."

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