The ladies of the Women's Institute near the Queen's Sandringham home were delighted to see Her Majesty join them for tea and delicious homemade cakes on Thursday (Jan. 21). The monarch joined more than 30 members of the group for conversation, treats and a special talk by television presenter Sian Williams. As president of the branch, and member since 1953, the Queen makes sure to attend at least one meeting a year.
The Sandringham and West Newton group's chairman Yvonne Brown, who has been a member for 25 years, has said the monarch "becomes one of us" at the gatherings and enjoys chatting over a cup of Yorkshire Blend tea.
"We use the same china as usual that we’ve got in the cupboard," she said last year. "The only extra thing we do is that we usually have tea and biscuits, but when the Queen comes, we have nice cakes and tablecloths and flowers.
"We don't have fancy tea, it's just any old tea bag that we have in the cupboard but we always make sure she has ginger bread with it because we think that is her favourite.
"She just becomes one of us and I think she really enjoys it."
The Women's Institute celebrated its 100th anniversary last year and the Queen prompted laughter from daughter Princess Anne and daughter-in-law the Countess of Wessex as she struggled to cut a celebratory cake at its annual general meeting in London in June.
Addressing the meeting, she praised the organization for "gathering women together, encouraging them to acquire new skills and nurturing unique talents."
"It can make a real difference to the lives of women of all ages and cultural backgrounds, in a spirit of friendship, co-operation and support," she said.
But Kate did reply to a letter from her local branch at Anmer last year, expressing an interest in the group. If she does join, she will be following a royal tradition started by Queen Mary when she asked for a group to be formed at the end of the First World War.
Made famous by the hit movie Calendar Girls, the WI was created in 1915 to encourage women to grow and preserve food. It has since become an important social platform to allow women to make friends and share traditional crafts and other hobbies.