Whatever Happened To The McDonald's Location Owned By The Queen?

Over the course of her 70-year reign, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II ruled a total of 32 different countries. And in all that land, there's one particular property that stands out. Considering she was one of the most visible figures of the past century, it might surprise some people to learn that the late queen technically owned a McDonald's franchise. It was located at the Banbury Gateway Shopping Park in Oxfordshire, about 80 miles away from her home at London's Buckingham Palace.

It's unlikely that the monarch ever ate at this McDonald's; in fact, she probably knew very little about it. Her ownership came via the Crown Estate, a collection of properties that encompasses all of the land owned by the British Crown, except for government properties and the royals' private estates. The Crown Estate boasted around $19 billion in assets as of 2022, including castles, forests, agricultural land, and more than half of the U.K.'s shoreline. It also covers numerous retail properties, including most of London's famed Regent Street and the Banbury Gateway Shopping Park that housed the so-called "Queen's McDonald's."

The Crown Estate is not the direct property of the monarch, but rather a property of the crown that is held in their name for the duration of their reign. When the reign ends, possession of Crown Estate lands passes to the next monarch, meaning King Charles III is now the proud owner of a McDonald's franchise. However, there's not much he can do with it.

The franchise belongs to King Charles now ... technically

The Crown Estate is a complicated thing. According to the corporation's website, the land it manages is considered to be the property of the monarch "in right of the crown," which means that the sovereign is merely a figurehead. They have no individual power over the properties held by the Crown Estate, and they can neither buy nor sell land on behalf of the corporation. Money generated by the Crown Estate goes to the U.K. Treasury, which passes along a portion to the royal family.

What all of this amounts to is that Queen Elizabeth had next to nothing to do with the McDonald's she technically owned, and this remains true under King Charles. The Crown Estate is actually managed by a board. At one point, the late queen had two McDonald's locations in her name — the one at Banbury Gateway Shopping Park and another at Bath Road Retail Park in the town of Slough. However, the Crown Estate's board sold the Slough property in 2016, one year after purchasing Banbury and its Mickey D's outpost. 

The Golden Arches weren't the only food megapower acquired under this deal, as the queen's Banbury property also endowed her with a Starbucks.

What's it like to dine at the royal McDonald's?

The British monarch doesn't actually control the properties that are held in their names through the Crown Estate. But that hasn't stopped those properties from leaning into the royal label.

The fundamental aesthetic of the "royal" McDonald's location at Banbury Gateway Shopping Park is the same as most McDonald's built in recent years — with a few notable upgrades. Guests can sit on leather sofas and Eames chairs, and Samsung tablets are available for customers' entertainment. The location was also one of the first in the region to offer self-service kiosks, and it even offers table service.

There are certainly more extravagant McDonald's locations around the world, but this one is a standout nevertheless. Plus, there's a British menu that features offerings including the full English Breakfast, which is the perfect option if you're looking to supersize your morning meal.