|A storm in a tea cup|
Catherine arrived in Portsmouth on 13 May 1662 and after a long and stormy crossing, she asked on her arrival for a cup of tea. So rare was it at this time that there was none available; the princess was offered a glass of ale instead. Not surprisingly, this did not make her feel any better, and for a time she was forced by illness to retire to her bedchamber.She had however brought with her as part of her dowry a chest of tea, not only her personal preference, but the favoured drink at the Portuguese court and already common across Europe.
Over time she established herself, and as the pre-eminent woman in the kingdom became something of a trend-setter. Although she adopted English fashions, she continued to prefer the cuisine of her native Portugal - including tea. Soon her taste for tea had caused not only a fad at the royal court but had gained social acceptance which then spread among the English aristocracy and then to the wealthier classes.
Catherine was a Roman Catholic, which occasionally made her a victim of popular anti-Catholic feeling. Although she remained in England for some years after her husband's death in 1685, she eventually retired to Portugal where she died in 1705. But While Catherine's experience as queen of England may not have been an entirely successful or happy one in many ways, it is this young foreign princess to whom we have to thank for the development of the British taste for tea.
The actual taking of tea in the afternoon developed into a new social event some time in the late 1830’s and early 1840’s.
|The legacy of a Portuguese princess|
And the story continues.....
The Horta Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Adiaspora.com have offered to present a bust of Catherine of Braganza as a gift from the Islands of the Azores to the London borough of Lambeth and the Portuguese-speaking community there.
The groups behind the initiative already have an Azorean-based Portuguese sculptor who is designing the statue, which will be made out of basalt stone. This type of volcanic rock is iconic and the most connected with the Azores because of the constant volcanic and seismic activity in the archipelago.
Lambeth Council have responded enthusiastically to the idea, (Interestingly in a multi-racial borough, a proposed statue of the Queen of Tea Drinking comes up without a lump or two of controversy).Stockwell Labour Councillor Alex Bigham said:
“This is a fantastic testament to the relationship between Britain and Portugal – the oldest of our alliances. Celebrating Catherine of Braganza reminds of us the shared history of our two nations which is reflected in the vibrant and thriving Portuguese community which we have in Stockwell and the rest of Lambeth.”
Adelina Pereira, a member of the Portuguese community who helped facilitate the gift said
“This artistic endeavour is something that is very close to the heart of the Portuguese people. Although Catherine was initially unpopular because of language difficulties and her Catholic religion, the British public warmed to her because of her decorum and loyalty to her adopted country.”
Lambeth Council officers are currently considering the proposal, and the statue is likely to be situated on Wilcox Road, near the area of Stockwell known as ‘Little Portugal’.
The statue is believed to be the first monument to a person of Portuguese origin in the UK.
Caetano Beirao, As Negociacoes para o casamento da Infanta D. Catarina com Carlos II da Inglaterra (Lisbon, 1942