This article is absolutely laden with spoilers about A Berry Royal Christmas.
I didn’t know I needed to see Prince William gently scoring a meringue roulade in order to get in the Christmas spirit.
Then again, Christmas spirit is something that’s been difficult to muster in the UK this year what with a general election plonked slap-bang in the middle of December.
But there’s something so very soothing about watching William yell, “I’m scoring Mary, I’m scoring,” as he competes against Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Mary Berry, master baker and The Great British Bake-Off royalty in an impromptu roulade battle.
“Can you keep an eye on your own roulade, please?” he cheekily adds.
BBC’s A Berry Royal Christmas isn’t just about baking, though — it’s about family, grief, and giving back. And, if you’re anything like me, it’ll tug on your heartstrings and leave you in absolute bits.
Berry begins the show by admitting she’s a little nervous about meeting Kate. She reveals that she’s got a hot water bottle hidden in her cardigan because she gets cold when she’s nervous. We hear from Kate about family life with her children, George, Charlotte, and Louis.
“One of Louis’ first words was his version of ‘Mary,'” the Duchess reveals. It seems the plethora of Berry’s cookbooks on display in the Cambridge kitchen had a big influence on the youngest member of the family.
This time of year can be tough for people who’ve lost family members. Instead of glossing over the grief and sadness that can come with this time of year, Berry acknowledges it head on and talks about her own personal struggles. “Prince William lost his mother at a very vulnerable age,” Berry says on her way to meet up with the Duke. “We lost our son, aged 19, in a car accident. So we know what it is to be without someone very special.”
“Christmas, for us, holds mixed emotions and I try to think of others who might not be having the best time,” says Berry as she heads to visit The Passage, a charity which helps homeless people.
There, Berry talks to Prince William about how his mother, Princess Diana, instilled in him the lesson that he needed to give back. “She realised it was very important when you grow up, especially in the life that we grew up in, that you realised life happens beyond palace walls. And that you see real people struggling with real issues,” he said. “I’ve grown up in a household which has been much the case of, well, we’re very lucky, you must give back.”
You get to see what that “giving back” actually looks like. It’s not a cursory handshake and a tour around the premises. You see William sitting down with the people at The Passage, talking to homelessness survivors about their experiences of sleeping rough, the reasons why they lost their homes, and their experiences with addiction.
Later in the episode, Berry and the Duchess of Cambridge travel to The Brink, Liverpool’s first dry bar, which brings together families affected by addiction.
After speaking to people about the struggles they’re facing, Berry reflects on her own need to talk to people. “Having lost my William, I know exactly how people feel when they need help and also to be able to talk with people who’ve had similar things happen to them,” she says.
It goes without saying that there are sumptuous, mouthwatering recipes aplenty — chocolate and beetroot cake (yum), stilton and fig filo pastry parcels (also yum), to name a few.
But there’s a lesson in this episode that’s not difficult to spot: Christmas isn’t just about delicious food and presents, it’s about family, it’s about helping people, and sometimes it’s about loss.
A Berry Royal Christmas airs on Dec. 16 at 20:30 GMT on BBC One.