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A piece of Charles and Diana’s wedding cake just sold at auction for surprisingly little

The 41-year-old cake is part of a lot of historical items from a former member of the royal household.

An edible piece of British history is headed to the auction block — well, actually, we're not so sure it's edible anymore.

On Oct. 19, British auction house Dore and Rees held an auction of items related to the royal family, including items of interest to Queen Elizabeth II, then-Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, the woman who would become the People’s Princess.

In what many called a fairytale come to life, Lady Diana Spencer became Princess Diana in a lavish royal wedding watched by 750 million people around the world on July 29, 1981.

Charles & Diana Royal Wedding
The 5-tier wedding cake at Charles & Diana's Wedding, July 29, 1981.David Levenson / Getty Images

In addition to her iconic David and Elizabeth Emmanuel gown, a 3-and-a-half foot bouquet and 3,500 guests, at the royal celebration was an equally extravagant multi-tiered cake made by David Avery, the head baker at the Royal Naval cooking school. Slices of the fruitcake — a royal flavor tradition that traces back centuries —  were made available as keepsake souvenirs that royal admirers not in attendance could save.

One of these royal slice’s eventual owners, Nigel Ricketts, kept the spirits-soaked dessert in a keepsake box which has stood the test of time and was part of his collection of royal items he kept until his passing earlier in 2022. Ricketts was a cabinet maker and furniture restorer employed by the royal household at Windsor Castle between 1980 and 1985, and gave Charles and Diana a table as a wedding gift while under their employ.

Charles wrote a thank-you note to members of his household for the gift, saying in part, “Could you please pass on our warmest and most appreciative thanks to all the members of her Majesty’s household for that magnificent table you have given us.” The note also went up for auction as part of the “Nigel Ricketts Collection” at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 19 in-person, online and by telephone, and sold for £180, or a little over $200.

“Nigel Ricketts was clearly fondly regarded by the royal family during the time he spent working at Windsor,” said Lee Young, Dore and Rees’s managing director in a news release, adding that it’s rare to find such highly sought-after items of royal interest in one collection. “The high regard and popular appeal of the royal family is wide reaching, we are anticipating interest from around the world and an exciting auction day.”

A piece of wedding cake from the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
A piece of wedding cake from the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981.Oli Scarff / Getty Images

The boxed and uneaten slice of cake of the eventual not-so-happy couple came in a box embossed with the words “Buckingham Palace” and the date of the wedding and was offered at an estimate of £200-£300 (or $224-$336) but has been sold for a more affordable sum.

According to auction records, “Lot 31,” as the slice of cake was known as in Dore and Rees auction, sold for £170 (or $190) a little under the estimated price. Still, a pricey piece of cake.

Also up for auction was a red leather-bound program from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, which was estimated to sell for £300-£500 (or $336-$561) but appears not to have sold.

Although Rickett’s slice of cake ended up fetching a price suited to the more affordable side of luxury historical cakes, other slices from royal weddings have often fetched exorbitant sums.

In Aug. 2021, a different slice of cake from Charles and Diana’s wedding sold for $2,500. This price discrepancy might be because that particular slice of cake came from the side or the top of one of their many wedding cakes, of which there were 23. The slice in question came complete with a royal coat of arms, a decorative leaf spray and small silver horseshoe.

Additionally, other slices of Charles and Diana’s wedding cake and other royal desserts were sold at upwards of $1,830 at auction. As to what is the most expensive slice of wedding cake ever sold from this family? That honor goes to a slice of William and Kate’s cake, which sold for a truly wild amount of $7,500 in 2014.