On September 8 the world lost an icon. Queen Elizabeth II was the world's longest-reining British monarch. She didn't achieve that feat without having some serious healthy habits, with a few treats thrown in. That's what Darren McGrady, one of her personal chefs revealed in his book, Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen as well as on his YouTube channel, and what many articles have reported about her eating habits. While the oldest living monarch got some publicity for a doctor's order to cut out her nightly cocktail, what she liked to eat every day didn't change much in 60 years, reported McGrady.
Here's a look at the foods she reportedly ate every day to maintain her stamina and health into her 70th year as queen. And don't worry if you can't keep up such a strict regimen; as McGrady reports at any given time while he worked for her, the queen had about 20 chefs working for her. They presented her with a menu from which to choose her daily menu. Ah, it's was good to be the Queen!
Tea and biscuits
The Queen started her day with a cup of hot Earl Grey tea with milk, no sugar, and a few biscuits. In England, cookies or crackers are called biscuits. A piece in Hello! revealed that her all-time favorite biscuits were Chocolate Bath Olivers which are crunchy cookies enrobed in chocolate. These treats are kind of a pre-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.
Lunch was simple and followed a high-protein, low-carb pattern. McGrady told The Telegraph that grilled Dover sole or Scottish salmon served with spinach and zucchini was one of her favorites. She was also known to enjoy a simple salad with grilled chicken. "When she dines on her own, she's very disciplined," McGrady said according to a piece in Bustle, "No starch is the rule."
Afternoon tea was a must, according to a Cosmopolitan piece. Royal biographer, Katie Nicholl, is quoted as saying that cucumber sandwiches, fruit cake, and more Earl Grey tea were on the menu.
McGrady shared the in-depth, but simple, cucumber sandwich the Queen favored on his YouTube channel. It started with white bread that was slathered with cream cheese with a touch of fresh spearmint and was then laid with very thinly shaved cucumber. The crusts were then cut off and the sandwich was cut into two-bite portions. He also demos the tomato sandwiches and the "Jam Pennies" the Queen used to eat as a child. These dainty little sandwiches are simple strawberry jam, made in the castle kitchens with fresh Scottish strawberries of course, and butter cut into little circles that are the size of the old English penny.
According to the Daily Mail, McGrady said that the queen had a "no starch" rule for dinner when she dined alone. More grilled or poached fish was on the menu with salad and vegetables. "That's it. That's all she has," Grady said to CNN. "She's very disciplined like that. She could have anything she wanted, but it is that discipline that keeps her so well and so healthy."
As healthy as she was, sometimes dessert was on the menu. While fresh fruit from her gardens was often served, think strawberries from Balmoral Castle or fresh peaches from Windsor Castle greenhouses, Grady confides to CNN that Queen was a little bit of a chocoholic. But, he said, "It has to be the dark chocolate, the darker the better. She wasn't keen on milk chocolate or white chocolate." She occasionally indulged in a homemade chocolate dessert as well. Here's the actual recipe for her favorite chocolate biscuit cake.
What the Queen didn't eat
One thing that you wouldn't find on the Queen's plate was garlic. "The Queen doesn't like garlic," said McGrady on his YouTube channel. She also preferred her beef well done, so steak tartar would never be on the menu either. "Whenever we were doing a roast beef, she'd always have the end slices," said Grady.
And for those of you looking to unearth a juicy secret about the Queen and fast food, sorry, she never ordered fast food. "When you've got 20 chefs in the kitchen, why would you?" remarks Grady. "You just call down to the kitchen and order whatever food you want."
A previous version of this article was originally published on April 29, 2022.