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The Queen is Dead, Long Live the King: Reflections on the End of the Elizabethan Era

It’s astonishing to think it’s now been one year since that unforgettable September day in 2022 when we learned of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing at 96 years old. I was in London on a business trip when the news broke, riding a vintage double-decker bus to dinner when I first read those shocking words on my phone.

In an instant, the once noisy bus went silent as we all scrambled to confirm Her Majesty’s death – the end of a groundbreaking 70-year reign. Already that day, “London Bridge” had been trending on Twitter, so many of us had a sense that her passing was imminent, yet it was still a profound shock when the news was made official. Staring out the window at the stunned city, it felt like time stood still in disbelief.

That surreal night in London took on a somber yet resilient mood. We were on our way to Guildhall to see Princess Diana’s brother Charles Spencer deliver a speech, unsure if the event would still take place given the sad news. But in the indomitable British spirit, it carried on as planned – a reflection of the Queen’s firm belief in continuing duties amid grief. At dinner beforehand, we raised toasts to Her Majesty’s memory and her tireless service as speculation swirled about the future under King Charles III.

In the days that followed, tribute to the Queen was visible all across London. Everywhere I went in the city center, impromptu memorials cropped up bearing flowers, cards, and images of Elizabeth II. It seemed no matter where I turned, someone was carrying a bouquet to lay outside Buckingham Palace. To find my own way to pay respects, all I had to do was follow the solemn procession of grieving citizens making their pilgrimage. As I walked, I witnessed the full depth of love and appreciation held for the Queen in every face passing by. An entire nation in mourning, united in remembrance of our longest-reigning monarch – the only one most had ever known.

As a Canadian, it was profound to see the depth of sorrow and the weight of change in the U.K. The Queen had been the only monarch most Brits ever experienced, leading steadfastly through war, social upheaval, and political storms. As Princess Diana’s godmother, she provided comfort and guidance in difficult times.

Now, after a year, the acute pain has softened, and Charles embraces his new role. But the indelible legacy of Queen Elizabeth II, who ruled over Canada for almost half our history, will endure for ages.

To honor her memory and her legendary love of chocolate, I am sharing the Queen’s recipe for her favorite chocolate cake that we enjoyed a slice of before a heartfelt toast to her remarkable life.

I feel privileged to have witnessed the end of the great Elizabethan era in London – a city bowed in grief, but carrying on with resolve and remembrance. Gone but not forgotten; long live the Queen.


Queen Elizabeth's Royal Birthday Cake

Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her official birthday in April, and while her birthday plans may be private, we do know is that her favorite chocolate birthday cake will be on the afternoon tea menu.
Course Afternoon Tea, Dessert
Cuisine English
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 10 servings



  • 1 pound good quality semisweet chocolate, chopped and divided
  • 2 cups heavy cream divided

Sponge cake

  • 6 egg yolks room temperature
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • cup plus 2 tsp. all-purpose flour, unbleached
  • 4 tbsp. Dutch Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted and kept warm


Prepare the Filling

  • Prepare the filling least six hours before baking the cake.
  • Put half the chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl. In a separate saucepan, bring half the heavy cream to a simmer. Pour the hot cream onto the chocolate, letting the chocolate melt. Whisk it until smooth and well incorporated.
  • Refrigerate until it cools and thickens to the consistency of a spreadable icing.

Prepare the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan and line it with buttered parchment paper. Don't butter the sides.
  • Set a metal mixing bowl over a saucepan half filled with simmering water. The water shouldn’t touch the bottom of the mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks, eggs, and sugar to the mixing bowl, and whisk together, allowing the heat from the simmering water to warm the mixture. Keep whisking the egg mixture until it reaches the ribbon stage, tripling in volume.
  • In a separate bowl, sift the flour and cocoa together. Gently sprinkle the flour and cocoa mixture onto the batter and fold the mixture in 3 additions.
  • Take a cup of the batter, mix it with the butter, and then gently fold in the butter mixture back into the main batter.
  • Spoon the cake batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the cake springs back slightly when pressed. The cake should have risen to the top of the pan. Remove the cake from the oven onto a cooling rack. I like to invert to help the sponge expand.

Prepare the Topping

  • Put the remaining half of the chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl. In a separate saucepan, bring the remaining heavy cream to a simmer. Pour the hot cream onto the chocolate, letting the chocolate melt. Whisk it until smooth and well incorporated, and then set it aside while you assemble the cake.


  • Slice the cooled sponge cake into three horizontal layers. Place the bottom layer on a cooling rack. which will allow the topping to flow below. Using the refrigerated icing, top the bottom discs with a thick layer of icing, then add the next layer and repeat the with the filling. Place the top of the cake on the second layer of icing. I like to use remaining frosting to fill in any gaps between layers.
  • Ladle the warm chocolate icing over the top of the sponge cake, allowing it to run down the sides.
  • If you wish to add further decorations, allow the cake to cool for two hours so the ganache has had a chance to set.


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