Everything the Queen eats in a day, according to royal chefs (2023)

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[This article was originally published in 2020]

With a team of world-class chefs, access to the best food that money can buy, and dining rooms at palaces across the UK, you would have thought meal times are always prestigious in the Windsor household.

The Queen’s former chef, Darren McGrady, has drawn back the curtain and revealed Her Majesty’s private dining habits, having previously spoken about her preferred drinks.

The 58-year-old’s primary role during his 15-year tenure at Buckingham Palace was as Queen Elizabeth II’s personal chef, accompanying her on two royal tours of Australia. He also cooked for five American Presidents – Ford, Reagan, Bush Snr, Clinton, and Bush Jnr – during their state visits.

McGrady also worked for other members of the royal family – including Princess Diana, and her sons William and Harry at Kensington Palace. He was cooking for Diana on the night of her death – 31 August 1997. McGrady already had her dinner ready and waiting for her return.

In his book "Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen", McGrady has revealed the Queen’s dining preferences, her favourite meals and the things she is not a fan of on the dinner table.


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How many meals does the Queen eat in a day?

McGrady says the Queen has four meals a day - but only eats small portions at each. In a series of YouTube Q&A videos, he says that during his time as her personal chef between 1982 and 1993, the Queen would eat breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner.

For breakfast she keeps things simple. Royal biographer, Katie Nicholl, has previously said: "HRH typically starts with a simple cup of tea and biscuits, followed by a bowl of cereal." (The Guardian previously reported she likes to keep it in Tupperware to preserve its freshness.)

This is before moving on to a lunch of grilled fish with wilted spinach or courgettes, according to McGrady. She is also partial to a simple grilled chicken with salad - a low carbohydrate option.

Then, in the late afternoon, McGrady says, the Queen will have an afternoon tea. (The Queen always has scones with jam and clotted cream - and she puts jam on first).

He explained: “She’d always have afternoon tea wherever she was in the world. We’d flown out to Australia and were on the Royal Yacht. It was five o’clock in the morning but for the Queen it was five in the afternoon so my first job was making scones.”

The queen had 20 chefs at the royal kitchen at the time McGrady was working there, he says. It was previously reportedthat the head chef would provide the Queen with a menu twice a week and then she could choose meals to her liking. McGrady confirmed the menu system was in place.

McGrady says while the Queen never directly said she didn’t enjoy a meal, she would leave a message in a notebook for the staff. “She had a little book on her desk and she would just put a note in there saying ‘I don't want this again’ or something like that,” he explains.

What are the Queen’s favourite foods?

The Queen apparently has a particular love for Morecambe Bay potted shrimp on toast. In a Q&A video, McGrady said: "They're cooked and marinated in this secret spicy butter. And then the Queen would have them with warm toast, and when you spread them on the warm toast, the butter melts."

The Queen might only enjoy small portions of savoury food, but McGrady says she is a glutton for sweet. Charbonnel et Walker, Bendicks, and Prestat all hold royal warrants.

"She is absolutely a chocoholic," McGrady told Hello! magazine in 2016. "Anything we put on the menu that had chocolate on, she would choose, especially chocolate perfection pie [a layered chocolate pie with white and dark chocolate and chocolate shavings]."

One of the Queen’s favourite “guilty pleasures” during McGrady’s time as chef was a croque monsieur sandwich, with melted Gruyère, ham and whipped eggs, he said.

One of Prince Philip’s favourite dishes was reportedly salmon coulibiac, McGrady says there was always a lot of salmon to eat when the royals were in residence at Balmoral because they went fishing frequently. "There are foods that the Queen and the royal family love, though, and it's all the produce at their estate, especially at Balmoral castle."

As well as enjoying four meals – the monarch is partial to a tipple, according to the Queen’s cousin, Margaret Rhodes, who said the Queen's preferred drinks are a gin and Dubonnet or a flute of champagne.

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What is the most important meal at the Palace?

McGrady says that the most popular meal of the week was always Friday fish and chips.

“Everybody loved fish and chips," explained McGrady. "All the staff, 300 staff at Buckingham Palace, all of the chefs would have fish and chips for lunch. But, forget your tartar sauce and your ketchup, we loved it with salad cream. Salad cream on those French fries, on those chips."

Although the Queen reportedly had her fish and chips in a panko breadcrumb rather than traditional batter. As for her condiment of choice - Lea & Perrins, HP Sauce, and Heinz ketchup all hold royal warrants.

But the other meal closest to the Queen’s heart is not one for the humans.

McGrady told Hello! magazine: “One of the things that really, really shocked me when I got a job as the Queen's chef was that I wasn't straight away preparing banquets for kings, queens and presidents. I was actually chopping beef, liver and chicken for the Queen's [12] corgis. I later learned that was one of the most important meals of the day when it came to the Queen.”

And one of his first tasks as the Queen’s personal chef was peeling carrots for her horses at Balmoral.

Are there any foods the Queen doesn’t like?

The Queen does not enjoy strong flavours, such as garlic and onion, says McGrady. "The Queen doesn't like garlic... we could never use it at Buckingham Palace.”

McGrady says the most important thing to remember was that – unlike when you are cooking in a hotel or restaurant – you are only cooking for one person so their taste is what matters. “It was [about] cooking dishes that the queen liked – for example, you could do a beef stroganoff and if she didn't like paprika in there, it became a dish without paprika because you’re cooking for that one person.”

This also applied if Prince Philip was dining with his wife. “The Queen eats to live whereas Prince Philip lives to eat,” says McGrady. “He loves curries with lots of garlic and spices, a real foodie. But we could never do [two plates] ‘for your plate you’re going to have lots of garlic’, and ‘your plate, no garlic’, it was always down to the Queen, you have everything how she has it.”

And shellfish and rare meat are also avoided during royal visits or tours – times when the family cannot afford to be out of action with food poisoning. Former royal butler Grant Harold confirmed this rule is sensible when royals are on duty.

Does the Queen ever cook for herself?

McGrady says that while Prince Philip was an “amazing chef” and regularly enjoyed cooking on the grill and having family BBQs on the Balmoral estate, and the younger royals like William, Kate, Meghan and Harry, all enjoy cooking, the Queen herself stays out of the kitchen.

And no, the Queen was never partial to a McDonalds drive-thru either. “The Queen never ordered fast food. When you’ve got 20 chefs in the kitchen, why would you? You can call down to the kitchen and order whatever you want,” says McGrady.

What about special occasions?


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McGrady told Hello! magazine that the biggest food event at the palace is Christmas. Although they go for traditional options. "It was the same meal every year," he said. "They're actually boring when it comes to festivities. They didn't do hams or anything, just traditional turkeys.

“We did three turkeys for the Queen and her family in the royal dining room, one for the children's nursery and then more for the 100 or so staff, so everyone had a Christmas lunch."

And they didn’t scrimp on dessert – the Christmas pudding would be “decorated in holly, doused in brandy, and the palace steward would carry it, flaming, into the royal dining room”.

For Mother’s Day, McGrady says the Queen “didn’t really celebrate” but she would often go to Windsor castle for the weekend and want special eggs for breakfast.

The royals do not celebrate Halloween either, McGrady confirmed.


What did the Queen eat on a daily basis? ›

Queen Elizabeth adhered to a daily teatime meal; her preference for delicate sandwiches with the crusts cut off was well-publicized. Her favorite version was reported to be smoked salmon with cream cheese. If the old adage is true, one should eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper.

What is Queen Elizabeth's favorite meal? ›

The Queen preferred grilled fish or chicken, served simply with vegetables. She generally skipped starches like potatoes, grains, or rice during her evening meal. What is this?

What do the royals eat in a day? ›

13 Meals The Royals Loved To Eat
  • Queen Elizabeth II: Jam penny sandwiches. ...
  • Prince Philip: Salmon coulibiac. ...
  • King Charles III: Seared lamb with wild mushroom risotto. ...
  • Camilla Parker Bowles: Canned beans on toast. ...
  • Prince William: Sushi. ...
  • Kate Middleton: Curry. ...
  • Prince George: Spaghetti carbonara. ...
  • Princess Charlotte: Cheesy pasta.
Dec 16, 2022

What did the Queen eat for breakfast everyday? ›

Breakfast. After bathing and dressing, the queen would eat her official breakfast which consisted of cold cereal, her favorite was rumored to be Special K. Sometimes toast and marmalade was also on the table. Eggs were a rarity.

What does Kate Middleton eat for breakfast? ›

The 40-year-old is said to start her day with oats, which are heavy in protein, carbs, and fiber, and then follow that with a breakfast drink consisting of nutrient-dense foods, according to hair specialists at Longevita.

How much alcohol did the Queen have in her daily diet? ›

At lunch, the queen used to have a piece of chocolate and a glass of wine after she was done with her meal. The queen also had dry gin martini and this secret was revealed by her cousin Margaret Rhodes. And finally, the queen had her last drink of the day, a glass of champagne before she went to bed.

Does the Queen eat the same sandwich everyday? ›

Queen Elizabeth II has eaten jam sandwiches every day since she was a toddler, according to her former private chef. Aug. 21, 2022, at 8:48 a.m.

What time did the Queen go to bed? ›

It's said that in order to feel fresh for her daily appointments the Queen always went to bed at the same time every night, 11pm, and slept for eight and a half hours – meaning she woke at 7.30am each day. It's so simple.

What was Princess Diana's favorite food? ›

According to the royal chef Darren, "Her favourite dish was bell peppers stuffed with zucchini, mushrooms, rice, garlic topped with Parmesan and mozzarella and finished with a smoked tomato and pepper sauce." "She asked for this dish several times a week."

What was the queens favorite breakfast? ›

Her Majesty favoured brown eggs

Dinner at Buckingham Palace revealed: "Kippers, in a number of uncomplicated variations, have remained a favourite with the Queen ever since – for breakfast, as a savoury or a late-night supper.

What was the queens favorite dessert? ›

Chocolate biscuit cake is Queen Elizabeth's favorite cake ~ she would take a small slice every day with her tea, until the cake was finished, and then she'd start on a fresh one!

What foods can royals not eat? ›

The Queen personally dislikes onions and garlic, so those items are seldom found in the royal kitchen. During an appearance on MasterChef Australia, Camilla herself confirmed the latter after being asked what foods royals won't eat. “I hate to say this, but garlic,” the Duchess of Cornwall said. “Garlic is a no-no.”

Can royals eat junk food? ›

The family don't indulge in unhealthy foods very often, according to former chef Darren McGrady. The Queen and Prince Philip eat very healthily, and McGrady says Prince Charles ate organic food before it even became fashionable to do so.

What does Prince William eat for dinner? ›

Prince of Wales reveals he has two eggs for breakfast and white fish for dinner - and three cups of tea because 'the kids keep him up' The Prince of Wales revealed his daily diet during a trip to Cornwall - and said he drinks three cups of tea because Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis 'keep him up. '

What is the Queen's favorite sandwich? ›

Tuna mayonnaise sandwiches

A former royal chef recently claimed the Queen's favourite sandwich was tuna mayonnaise. He said that the sandwich always had to be generously buttered and topped with thin slices of cucumber, plus a sprinkle of black pepper on top.

Does the Queen ever do housework? ›

At her former primary residence, Buckingham Palace, and at her current home, Windsor Castle, the Queen has a staff on hand to take care of most of the chores we non-royals dread: The laundry. Vacuuming. Washing the dishes after a meal.

Does the Queen dress herself? ›

And as to putting one's clothes on, contrary to popular belief the Queen actually dressed alone. The monarch also did her own make-up for most events, with the exception of her annual Christmas speech, for which a make-up artist was employed.

What does Prince Charles eat for breakfast? ›

What does King Charles III eat for breakfast? King Charles and his wife Camilla keep their own chickens at their Gloucestershire family home, Highgrove House, so it's no surprise that fresh eggs feature high on the royal couple's breakfast menu.

What does Prince Charles eat in a day? ›

Foraged mushrooms, organic eggs, cheese and crackers, and locally-raised in-season lamb make appearances on his food menu but the King follows a mostly plant-based diet and tends to skip lunch entirely too, according to the 70 facts released about him on the prince of wales website.

What did Princess Diana have for breakfast? ›

Baked beans were Princess Diana's breakfast of choice

She ate the beans alongside a pink grapefruit, a cup of coffee, and a glass of orange juice before going to the gym, he added. Diana even left her chef notes requesting the baked beans, as seen in the photo provided by McGrady below.

What is the royals favorite drink? ›

Queen Elizabeth II has carried on the tradition of drinking her late mother's preferred aperitif, Dubonnet and gin, imbibing the cocktail every day before lunch as appetite-stimulator (although she's had to cut back in recent times so that she could be in top shape for her Platinum Jubilee).

Who smokes in the royal family? ›

Queen Consort Camilla's smoking

The Queen Consort was a smoker for thirty years, though reportedly quit cigarettes for good when she married her husband Charles, who wasn't a fan of the habit. King Charles' official royal website even addresses the fact in a FAQ section.

What is the queens favorite food to eat? ›

Simple cooked meat and vegetables lead the way, with space for pheasant or venison should the Queen wish. Of course, Queen Elizabeth loved a Sunday roast just as much as anyone else. Along with chocolate, the Queen enjoyed some strawberries or peaches for dessert.

Does the Queen eat fish and chips? ›

Queen Elizabeth was a ruler, a royal, and, one of the most famous women in the entire world, but she was also a Brit to the core, evidenced by her lifelong love of fish and chips.

What do royals call toilets? ›


If you're looking for a restroom in Buckingham Palace, ask for the loo or the lavatory.

Who puts the Queen to bed? ›

At the time of hearing the traditional two-pitch whistle, all Naval personnel on the upper deck will stop, face the stern and salute. And, in the 'sunsets' ceremony, the Navy is responsible for 'putting the Queen to bed' – taking down the two flags.

Has the Queen been laid to rest now? ›

The Queen's coffin has been buried in the King George VI memorial chapel inside St George's Chapel, and as part of a standard ticket to view the castle, entrance to the chapel will be granted.

What was the last meal Diana ate? ›

One of the last places Princess Diana visited before her death was the Ritz Paris hotel — or more specifically, "L'Espadon," the hotel's restaurant, for dinner on August 31, 1997. It has been reported that Diana's last meal consisted of Dover sole, vegetable tempura, and a mushroom and asparagus omelet.

What was Lady Diana's favorite perfume? ›

Princess Diana's favourite perfume was Penhaligon's Bluebell - you can still buy it today | HELLO!

Does the Queen like cheeseburgers? ›

Hamburgers. Yes, Her Majesty was similar to the majority of the population in the sense that she loved a hamburger just as much as the next person. She did, however, have some rather peculiar preferences when it comes to how her burger is made. O'Grady explained how Queen Elizabeth preferred her burgers without a bun.

What was the Queen's favorite movie? ›

Flash Gordon

Brian Blessed was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the arts and charity in 2016. Appearing on Yahoo Movies, Blessed said that Her Majesty told him her favourite movie was pulpy sci-fi classic Flash Gordon.

What was the queens favorite cookie? ›

Queen Elizabeth is known for her love of afternoon tea. In fact, we wrote about the Queen's favorite tea recipes. She is also known for her love of shortbread cookies.

What is the Queen's favorite fruit? ›

It is this terrain that also grew the Queen's favorite fruit, one of which she loved to pick herself: Wild strawberries.

What is Queen Elizabeth's favorite tea? ›

Twinings of London Earl Gray Black Tea

You might as well try a cup of the queen's favorite. It's been reported that Her Majesty often enjoyed Twinings of London Earl Gray Black Tea — a classic and all-natural selection that includes notes of citrus and bergamot — with a splash of milk and no sugar.

Why can't royals eat pasta? ›

The royal family very rarely eat pasta. In fact, it's only really served on special occasions or at dinner parties. Apparently, it's all to do with it being too starchy and filling, and the Queen's simply not into that.

Can royals eat McDonald's? ›

Harry and William love fast food, especially McDonald's

Former royal family personal chef Darren McGrady told Marie Claire, “I remember Princess [Diana] came into the kitchen one day and said, 'Cancel lunch for the boys I'm taking them out, we're going to McDonald's.

Has the Queen ever had McDonald's? ›

Believe it or not, the Queen owns a McDonald's! According to Business Insider, the Queen's McDonald's restaurant is located at the Banbury Gateway Shopping Park in Oxfordshire, about 80 miles from her home at Buckingham Palace. So how does this work exactly?

Did the Queen eat pizza? ›

Well, according to the royal family's former chef, Darren McGrady, the Queen has lived her whole life without ever having tried pizza. Well, that's what he thinks, as he never cooked it for her during his 15 years of working with the royals.

Do the royals eat ice cream? ›

Darren reveals how at Buckingham Palace, her Majesty eats a course of dessert fruit after her pudding, which is what we know to be sweet foods like tarts, mousses and ice cream. "Sometimes the Queen will miss the pudding course altogether and just have the entrée (main course) and some dessert fruit," he says.

How do royals eat burgers? ›

The Royal Family Does Eat Hamburgers, But They're Served With A Fork And Knife.

What does Princess Kate eat for dinner? ›

She often eats roast chicken for dinner, which is Prince William's favourite meal, and is said to enjoy cooking pizza, pasta and baking cakes with their children.

What is Prince George favorite meal? ›

Spaghetti carbonara is Prince George's favorite meal

Not so for tiny foodie Prince George. According to celebrity chef — and ambassador for the youth homeless charity Centrepoint — Aldo Zilli, Prince George's favorite meal is spaghetti carbonara.

Does Kate Middleton cook at home? ›

Kate Middleton Shows Off Her Cooking Skills by Flipping Pancakes During a Visit to a Nursing Home. The Princess of Wales found the funny side when she had a bit of a sticky moment in the kitchen. Prince William recently shared that Kate is a “very good” cook and admitted that he only does a bit of cooking at home.

Did the Queen eat a sandwich every day? ›

LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II has eaten jam sandwiches every day since she was a toddler, according to her former private chef.

How did the Queen stay slim? ›

She favored "sensible exercise" over rigorous workouts and loved spending time in nature. The Queen liked simple, healthy meals, but also enjoyed a daily gin and ate dark chocolate.

What time did the Queen eat breakfast? ›

The Queen moves through to the dining room for breakfast at 8:30 am. Breakfast is light, with a continental theme.

Who was the Queen's Favourite food? ›

The former royal chef revealed the Queen loves chocolate!

"For a first course she loved the Gleneagles pâté, which is smoked salmon, trout and mackerel. She loved using ingredients off the estate and so if we had salmon from Balmoral from the River Dee, she'd have that, it was one of her favourites.

Did the Queen ever eat junk food? ›

O'Grady spoke about how Queen Elizabeth was never a fan of McDonald's or KFC but did in fact have a hankering for one kind of fast food in particular. The food? Hamburgers. Yes, Her Majesty was similar to the majority of the population in the sense that she loved a hamburger just as much as the next person.

Did the Queen eat junk food? ›

Queen Elizabeth II didn't eat fast food

And if she ever got a craving for it, the chefs would cook up their own versions. She was especially particular about burgers, only eating them without the bun.

Did the Queen have a colostomy? ›

In December 1966, she underwent an operation to remove a tumour, after she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Contrary to rumours which subsequently spread, she did not have a colostomy.

What is the Queen dressed in in her coffin? ›

The Queen will be laid to rest today wearing only two precious pieces of jewellery. Her Majesty, who will be buried next to her husband Prince Philip later today, will wear only her wedding band and a pair of pearl earrings, despite owning a collection worth millions of pounds.

Does the Queen ever cook for herself? ›

The queen has a number of people on staff who cook for her and there aren't any reports that she has ever had to make her meals herself. But she does prepare her own breakfast. For the most important meal of the day, the monarch eats cereal and fetches it herself.

What is the queens favourite sandwich? ›

Tuna mayonnaise sandwiches

A former royal chef recently claimed the Queen's favourite sandwich was tuna mayonnaise. He said that the sandwich always had to be generously buttered and topped with thin slices of cucumber, plus a sprinkle of black pepper on top.

Did the Queen ever go out to dinner? ›

The Queen may have rarely had the opportunity to dine for pleasure, but she did occasionally.


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