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A footman polishing silver at Buckingham Palace

George IV's spectacular silver-gilt dining service and buffet

A footman polishing silver at Buckingham Palace October 2007

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Today the Grand Service is kept under the care of the Yeoman of the Silver Pantry. When not in use, it is stored in a controlled atmosphere. For a State Banquet it must be at its most gleaming and every piece is taken apart, thoroughly washed and cleaned with soft brushes, then dried and polished with soft cloths before being placed on the table. When everything is dismantled, there are over 8,000 components to clean. It takes eight people three weeks to prepare the Service.