Minor British Institutions: The Marie biscuit

The Marie biscuit was named after the now- forgotten Grand Duchess Maria, or Marie, Alexandrovna of Russia, daughter of Czar Alexander II of Russia and wife of the second son of Queen Victoria, Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. She was a sort of Diana of her day, so much of a sensation that the famous British bakery Peek Frean decided to create a new biscuit to celebrate her marriage into the British royal family in 1874.

This right royal connection may explain why the Marie is the most fussily patterned of biscuits, with the ornate detail typical of contemporary tastes. It is a sort of up-market version of the Rich Tea biscuit, more durable in the dunk and tastier.

It was popular here and across Victoria's empire, and is still baked and enjoyed around the world, though it is a less common sight than it was. It goes well with coffee, too. An irrelevant though compelling fact is that Marie's son Alfred died of syphilis at the age of 24.

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