Prince William and Prince Harry Kick Off Memphis Visit with Barbecue
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.
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.