Prince William and Prince Harry Kick Off Memphis Visit with Barbecue

05/02/2014 at 11:27 AM ET

Prince Harry and William: BBQ in Memphis
Rex USA

Even English princes know that every trip to Memphis should start with one thing: Ribs.

In town for the wedding of their mutual friends Guy Pelly and Lizzy Wilson, Prince William and Prince Harry — who spent the previous night out with friends in Miami Beach — went to a pre-wedding party at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, one of Memphis’s most famous barbecue restaurants. (Kate Middleton, having just returned from the royal visit to Australia and New Zealand, opted to stay in England with Prince George.)

The brothers arrived at the Rendezvous, which is known for its dry-rubbed ribs and smoked sausage, around 8:30 p.m. in separate chauffeured cars. As expected, a crowd of onlookers packed the sidewalk across the street, hoping for a glimpse. They then went upstairs and met Pelly, Wilson and the rest of their group for a feast, says restaurant co-owner John Vergos.

“They were very friendly and very approachable, and I was torn between wanting to chitchat but also wanting to stand back and let them enjoy the space,” Vergos told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview.

Although the crowd put away plenty of beer, wine and Jack Daniels, Vergos said the brothers were were in great spirits and didn’t go overboard, despite the fact that Harry might still be nursing a breakup. “But those Brits do love their Jack Daniels. If I lived in England I’d want stock in it,” he said.

The Pelly-Wilson party chowed down on barbecue, cheese and sausage appetizers, ribs, shoulder, brisket and chicken, which likely thrilled William and Harry.

Darren McGrady, former personal chef to Princess Diana, wrote about William and Harry’s longstanding appetite of barbecue. “Both William and Harry love BBQ and especially baby back ribs. As teenagers when I was cooking for them at Kensington Palace they requested them all the time much to Nanny’s disgust. ‘They should be eating roast chicken, potatoes and vegetables,’ she used to say, ‘not this American rubbish,” he recalls on his blog.

Prince Harry and William: BBQ in Memphis
FameFlynet

According to McGrady, one of their most-requested meals as kids was “BBQ ribs, loaded potato skins, corn on the cob and baked beans.” He says that since Harry called his ribs only “sort of OK,” the boys would often go to Sticky Fingers restaurant, which is owned by Rolling Stone bassist Bill Wyman and just a short walk from Kensington Gardens.

Though they might be separated by an ocean, it turns out that Sticky Fingers and the Rendezvous have a link, which Vergos explained: “In 1964, my father nearly threw the Rolling Stones out of the restaurant — they were so raggedy looking in those days and it was a shock to our Southern sensitivities,” he said. But the Stones went on to become regular patrons of the Rendezvous and in 1999, Mick Jagger hosted a party in the same private room where the princes celebrated last night.

—Lexi Dwyer

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Showing 12 comments

Trevor on

When will the American media start referring to Prince William’s wife by her title, Duchess of Cambridge and not her maiden name? It’s not that hard to remember that she is now a member of royalty.

SP on

I totally agree with you Trevor. It’s an insult to her, her husband and the Royal Family. It bugs the crap out of me that three years in and America still doesn’t get it.

JM on

Wow that security is over the top. I wonder who would pay for that? They must get sick of living life in a fish bowl.

maya on

Seriously, are your scruples so low that you can not respect CATHERINE by calling her the proper name? Ignorant American press, always doing what they want rather than what is right.

Anna on

Relax, it’s not only the American press that calls her by her maiden name….and honestly if that irritates you so much, you need to get a life.

Trish on

Can’t wait to have my first BBQ this year. It’s still a bit chilly outside here. I love BBQ’s Their meal sounds yummy!
Traveling itself and especially with plane troubles is extremely exhausting! They look happy like they are having fun, good for them! :)

rachel86 on

To those upset that they refer to her by her maiden name.. I highly doubt that she finds people calling her Kate Middleton insulting. Middleton is her maiden name/family name. She seems proud of her family and who they are. As far as my understanding goes, she was called Kate long before she met William. It was her and her family’s choice to call her Kate.

Guest on

Nice to see the brothers hanging out and enjoying the atmosphere. Granted they are going to a wedding, but they both looks happy and relaxed. I’m sure the barbecued food was highly enjoyed.

karen on

Ive lived in Memphis for almost 20 yrs and can tell you their bbq is just so so. There are so many better places than this place for GOOD bbq. Maybe good ambiance and or being downtown but that is it.

Kathie on

I agree with Trevor. I think that it shows a lack of respect for both her and William. She has held the title of Duchess for three years now and deserves to be recognized by that title. I don’t recall this magazine calling Prince William’s mother Diana Spencer in their articles.

guest on

HOW MANY MORE TIMES DOES THIS NEED TO BE SAID???
PRINCE WILLIAM’S WIFE IS CALLED CATHERINE, DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE. SHE IS NOT “KATE MIDDLETON” ANYMORE.
GET IT RIGHT!!
THE WOMAN

b on

why everyone having such a fuss, she should be called dutchess or either by her husband last name. once you are married you should use your husband last name. i am so happy they got to enjoy to see memphis and taste some of the southern foods. i hope they will always keep in there hearts about the s

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