The Prince of Wales celebrated his birthday in 2003 at Windsor Castle. The theme for the party was “out of Africa”, which included having a vodka luge in the shape of an elephant that left the former monarch confused.
In an interview during Channel 5’s The Royal Borough: Kensington and Chelsea, event planner Johnny Roxburgh dove into the details of the event and the moment when Queen Elizabeth saw someone pouring vodka into the elephant’s ice head.
“I remember when it was William’s 21st, [it] was a jungle theme,” said Roxborough, according to The Daily Mail. “And we have an enormous vodka luge, which was made in the shape of an elephant’s head. And she looked at me and said, ‘What is that?’”
“And I said, ‘Ma’am, it’s a vodka luge.’ I could have said it was a tin of Brasso, because she just looked at me confused and said, ‘Hmmm.’”
The party also featured musicians flown in from Botswana, as well as 300 celebrity guests.
When speaking to Tatler in 2018, Roxburgh said the goal with the elephant-shaped vodka luge was to entertain everyone in attendance. The party planner has been responsible for many royal events that took place at Buckingham Palace, Holyrood Palace, and Highgrove.
As far as planning Prince William’s party, he explained that the royal was “charming beyond belief” and “wonderful to work with.”
“We created an African jungle at Windsor Castle with full-size elephants made from palm husks, table centres that would shame a Lion King headdress, a giant ice vodka luge in the shape of an elephant’s head (which the Queen loved),” Roxburgh said. “I realised then that our future king is a very cool young man.”
Picking an African theme was Prince William’s way to pay homage to his time on the continent and his charity work there, according to The Daily Mail. Speaking on his experience planning royal parties as a whole, Roxburgh said he’s done it all.
“I’ve done parties that have cost tens of millions of pounds,” he revealed. “One minute we’re in Shanghai, the next we’re in Paris or in Russia. I did dinner with Putin. That was kind of extraordinary.”
He continued: “I’ve done weddings. I’ve buried them. I’ve done birthday parties.”
The party planner also revealed the specific steps he would take in order to plan something for the Queen at the time, who had to be constantly aware of what was going on.
“We did dinner for 600 in the grounds of Balmoral,” he recalled about a specific event that he planned. “And the Queen was always asking for photographs to be sent to her so she could see what we were building in the grounds of her castle.”
The one-year anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s death will take place on 8 September 2023. According to reports, the Prince and Princess of Wales will lead tributes to the late monarch on the anniversary of her death. Meanwhile, King Charles III is reportedly expected to spend his mother’s death anniversary “quietly and privately” at Balmoral in Scotland, where she passed away.