Darren McGrady was the Windsor’s personal chef from 1982 to 1993, and here he reveals some of the strangest eating habits of the Royal Family.
1. Harry and William love their McDonalds
We may all imagine that the Royals eat only top-quality stuff like lobster and filet steak, but Princes William and Harry enjoy eating the same kind of food we commoners do – namely McDonalds.
McGrady recalls Princess Diana taking the two boys out to McDonald’s for lunch, apparently because they wanted the free toy with their Happy Meal! He also said they loved pizza and potato skins too.
2. Princess Diana was dieting very strictly, but no-one was aware of her bulimia
We know now that Diana suffered from bulimia, but McGrady reveals just how severely the Princess enforced her diet. He says he used to make her fat-free versions of the same foods everyone else was having, so they would think she was eating the same as them. Diana also asked him to cut the fats out completely and said she would take care of the carbs at the gym.
McGrady said that her bulimia was hidden, and it wasn’t until she acknowledged the problem that she really started healthy eating. She liked fish, and dishes such as stuffed bell peppers and stuffed eggplant.
3. Prince Philip disliked Charles’ organic foods
Prince Philip apparently thought that Prince Charles’ obsession with green eating was a waste of time. McGrady recalled a time when there two hampers in the kitchen, one of which was a thank-you gift from Harrod’s for shopping with them. Prince Philip came in and saw the hampers. He asked McGrady if they were Harrod’s hampers, and McGrady told him one was full of food that Prince Charles had brought with him. Prince Philip looked puzzled, so McGrady opened the hamper up and told him it was all organic
food. Prince Philip said, “Oh, bloody organic!” shook his head and walked out.
4. Prince Philip once swapped dinners with the staff
Prince Philip wasn’t much impressed by small portions of fancy food. McGrady says that Prince Philip came into the kitchen and asked what was for dinner that night, and McGrady replied that there were little one-inch eyes of lamb meat. Prince Philip had meanwhile spied the larger lamb chops reserved for the staff dinner, and asked if they could have those for dinner instead. So, the staff ended up eating the dainty portions of lamb meat, and the Royals had the lamb chops!
5. The Queen Mother was always late for dinner, so the family would lie to her about the time
A lot of us will tell our always-late friends and relations that something will start earlier than it actually does because we know they’ll never be on time.
The Royal Family adopted this tactic with the Queen Mother, who had a tendency to be late to every family dinner. McGrady says that the family would tell the Queen Mother that dinner was at 8.15pm, when it was really at 8.30pm, as they knew she’d be the last one down.
6. The Queen sometimes eats out of Tupperware
The Queen is a practical person, and although she tends to dine off of the finest dinner services around, she would eat fruit from a yellow plastic Tupperware container when at Balmoral. She also ate Kellogg’s in the morning there from a plastic container, and she would serve herself.
7. The Queen picks her meals from a menu book
The Queen always chose her meals from a selection in advance, says McGrady. At Buckingham Palace the staff would prepare a menu book, which was sent up to the Queen so she could choose the dishes she wanted, and the kitchen would prepare them.
8. The Queen loves dark chocolate
McGrady says that the Queen’s favorite food is dark chocolate, and the darker it is, the better!
9. Everyone has to dress for dinner
When they’re at Balmoral, the Royal Family tends to be more informal, but typically they have to dress for dinner like a Downton Abbey episode. All of the fine china is used, and at the end of the meal a piper would walk round the table playing the bagpipes. Prince Philip wasn’t always keen on dressing up, and he was known for dressing shabbily at times –
McGrady once mistook him for the gardener!