This past weekend my daughter and I had the most unique afternoon at the Paris Theatre and the Plaza Hotel in NYC. Given her British roots and ancestry, it could not have been a more perfect afternoon. A bit of Dame Judi Dench and cream tea all in one, I can’t think of anything more sublime.
We started our day at the Paris, a theatre I have long loved since my days of living in NYC. It’s one of the city’s most loved and authentic art film houses. We were there to see the new film, Victoria and Abdul, a quintessential English film depicting an unusual story about a relationship between Queen Victoria and one of her servants that is truly fascinating. Directed by Steven Frears, one of my faves, and written by Lee Hall, the film tells of an unlikely friendship you would never expect a Queen to have. Abdul, played by Ali Fazal, is a young clerk from Agra, India who is flown from India, along with another young man played by Adeel Akhtar, to participate in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. It is to everyone’s shock, including his own, when he soon finds himself incredibly devoted and her biggest ally and confidante, against nearly everyone’s wishes in the Kingdom particularly her son and heir, Bertie, played by Eddie Izzard. She quickly labels Abdul her “munshi,” a beloved teacher and their friendship takes her to the end of her life, teaching her to read and write in Urdu and all about India, a country she leads but has never understood. Dench plays Queen Victoria with such dignity and grace. It’s a role she knows well, having played her before in the film Mrs. Brown.
The movie offers many lessons. For one thing, being a royal is not easy. Queen Victoria is not particularly happy before Abdul shows up. She also is not very educated about what’s going on in India with the persecution of Muslims, and even in her own country and Kingdom, and she must learn about it the hard way. It’s also a lesson about friendship between these two very different people, and how just one relationship can change a life. My teenage daughter appreciated the film for these reasons and others, and I loved that we both got a insider’s look into a part of history that was uncovered through the real Abdul’s diaries a few short years ago.
Then we walked through the The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel. It was the perfect sesueway to the movie, to be able to experience a truly refined high tea experience after a quintessential British film. As we exited the cinema, employees were giving out invitations to the tea. Focus Features is offering guests who purchase tickets to see Victoria & Abdul at The Paris between now and October 22nd to enjoy the following:
- In the afternoon, those who indulge in an Afternoon Tea will receive a complimentary glass of champagne.
- In the evening, those dining for drinks or dinner will receive a complimentary Queen Victoria Rose Tea Cake as an ode to the film.
As a longtime New Yorker, tea at the Plaza was not something I had experienced before, and I have to tell you, it was every bit of what I imagined…and more. Because of this unique opportunity the studio is offering to viewers of the film, I was fortunate to experience it after living in NYC for over 20 years. Not only is the tea beautiful, but the service and ambience truly added to a special and quite memorable moment in time for both of us.
We indulged in the New Yorker Tea, which was simply delightful.
We were delighted with the offerings, particularly the sweets, naturally. We channeled Queen Victoria’s love of sweets and indulged in scones and clotted cream.
I can’t recommend the experience enough. See the film. Go for tea. Take your teenager or someone in your life who will really appreciate it.
After all, this is life in New York.
Interested in the film? You’ll want to enter this giveaway!
Enter to win:
1 Copy of the Book
1 Copy of the film’s score
2 Tea Bags
1 Mango Flavored Lip Balm
To enter, answer this in the comments:What is your favorite film to come out of the UK in recent years, or ever?
Three winners will be selected randomly. This giveaway will end on Monday, October 9th at 3pm EST. Winners will be posted here, on the Culture Mom Facebook page and via email and will have 24 hours to accept their prize.
Disclosure: I was treated to the film and high tea by my friends at Focus Features, but all opinions are my own.