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Queen Elizabeth IIs day starts when her personal maid wakes her at 8 a.m. with a pot of Earl Grey tea and a few Marie biscuits, named after the Grand Duchess Marie of Russia, the wife of Prince Alfred, Queen Victorias fourth son. The queen reads the newspaper, including the Racing Post. Although she has a healthy appetite, Her Majesty doesnt indulge in a "full English" breakfast anymore, preferring white toast, marmalade, and tea, although much of her toast ends up with the corgis at her feet.
The queen might occasionally have some scrambled eggs, and, thanks to an undercover reporter from the Daily Mirror who spent two months working as a footman in 2003, we know that cereals and porridge oats are also on the breakfast table in plastic Tupperware containers, alongside a bowl of fruit. Prince Philip likes Ryvita and granary toast with honey, syrup, and marmalade. Prince Philip prefers black coffee and rarely drinks tea of any sort. Philip sometimes has a fry-up, and he also has a liking for oatcakes with honey.
Graham Newbould revealed the prince's extraordinary breakfast requirements: freshly squeezed orange juice, a small bowl of freshly peeled and cut fruit, specially made muesli, milk from the Windsor Castle dairy, granary toast, and six different types of honey! Even Charles's great friend Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, muttered "how rude" when the prince once stayed with her at Chatsworth House and brought his own grub.
At around 1 p.m., after she has met visiting dignitaries, answered letters or held an investiture, she will have a small piece of fish or chicken, accompanied by some fresh vegetables or salad. At Buckingham Palace, the queen often eats a light lunch alone.
The chef at Chatsworth, one of England's great stately homes, revealed Charles's demands for the "perfect" picnic sandwich. French-born Herv Marchand, who left his job after four years, had to contact the prince's chef for instructions. "Charles wanted a homemade organic granary bap exactly eight centimeters in diameter, and cut in half," he said. "I was told I had to cut it exactly to size if it were too big or small. I would butter the first half with mayonnaise, add pesto, shredded salad leaves, and an egg, which had been fried on both sides so that it was not runny. I would then have to season the eggs and add two thin slices of Gruyere cheese." Marchand was then told he had to carefully butter the second half and smear a little Marmite on it, before placing the two halves together. But Charles still wasn't finished. He insisted that the sandwich look "rustic," so the chef then had to cover it with a little white flour.
Dinner is often fresh produce from the royal estate she is staying at: salmon at Balmoral, game at Sandringham, and beef from the farm at Windsor. She also enjoys two long holidays a year, one at Balmoral in Scotland in August and September, and another at Sandringham in Norfolk at Christmas and the New Year. For dinner, the queen loves traditional dishes like poached salmon, lamb cutlets, roast beef, duck a l'orange, and fish and chips. Her favourite is haddock fried in breadcrumbs, served with Barnaise sauce and neat thin french fries. She and Prince Philip don't normally have starters, but the queen might have a cocktail before dinner, pink vermouth with soda or a gin martini. Her husband prefers a beer and Double Diamond used to be a favourite.
Charles's favourite supper dishes include soft-boiled eggs with porcini mushrooms, crispy potato skins with spinach, and risotto with mushrooms picked from the Balmoral estate. He once invited Italian restaurateur Antonio Carluccio to spend three days with him at the Deeside castle, showing him which wild mushrooms were fit to eat and which were poisonous. The prince enjoys game pie made from whatever animals he or his sons have shot, and of course any salmon they have caught from the river. He is not keen on desserts, preferring fresh fruit from his garden. Prince Charles has taken an obsession with healthy eating to new levels. Wherever possible he will only eat food prepared by his own staff, and organic vegetables grown at Highgrove, his Gloucestershire home, are transported to him wherever he is. He even has them ferried 600 miles in trucks up to Balmoral, preferring his produce to that from the queen's Scottish estate. Carolyn Robb, Charles' personal chef for 11 years, told how she was expected to take home grown food in "piles and piles of cool-boxes" halfway around the world on official tours because Charles didn't want to risk local dishes.
She has a "sweet tooth" and enjoys puddings like chocolate mousse, poached pears, mint chocolate ice cream, summer pudding, and tangy lemon tart.
She drinks still Malvern water throughout the day, often getting through two or three large bottles, and only drinks alcohol during the day on special occasions. Despite access to some of the world's finest wines in the palace cellars, the queen normally favors a German hock or a glass of Portuguese Mateus rose.
Prince Charles is partial to most alcohol, but never to excess. He loves Laphroaig malt, and even has a special Highgrove edition of the whiskey from Islay on sale in his Gloucestershire estate shop. The subject of drinking, though, is one of Charles's favourite conversation pieces. Whenever he meets members of the public on walkabouts, boozing is never far from his lips. "Do you have a good drink up after work?" is a typical question. He once told an Irishman he met in England, "I'd love to go to Ireland and have a pint of Guinness, but they might blow me up or something!" And in a market in Budapest, Hungary, he asked bewildered stall-holders, "Do you like chasers with your beer?"
Undoubtedly the royals favourite meal is tea. Prince Charles once said the family were obsessed with it, and "everything stops" for the afternoon ritual at 5 p.m. Dainty cucumber sandwiches with rounded edges cut to an exact size without crusts, homemade scones, potted shrimps, Dundee fruit cake, and strong tea feature on a daily basis. Former royal chef Graham Newbould, who during a six-year stint worked for the queen and Prince Charles, explained on a TV show, Secrets of the Royal Kitchen, in 2002: "The royals never have square sandwiches because tradition has it that anyone presenting them with pointed-edged food is trying to overthrow the throne of England."
Garlic, onions, and tomato sauce are out, as are shellfish, curry, and "messy" foods like spaghetti and other pastas with sauces. Tomato pips and cucumber seeds have to be removed so as not to stick in her teeth, and soft fruits such as blackberries or raspberries are banned for the same reason. Chicken, game, and fish are always boned for the benefit of guests and the royals. The fish bone that stuck in the Queen Mums throat in 1986, requiring her to be airlifted 130 miles by helicopter from the Castle of Mey in the far north of Scotland to Aberdeen hospital, has never been forgotten! Even at banquets, the queen likes to season her own food, and does not appreciate overzealous waiters wielding pepper mills. But if she is hardly adventurous in her tastes, the queen does enjoy one huge advantage over the rest of us when it comes to choosing fresh and wholesome ingredients: She has the pick of produce from her own homes salmon and beef at Balmoral in Scotland, game and crabs from Sandringham in Norfolk, and lamb and vegetables from Home Farm, Windsor.
Despite being one of the richest women in the world, the queen is renowned for her frugality and insists that all leftovers from meals are eaten the next day. So on Mondays, after a Sunday roast, she will often be eating similar meals to her servants: shepherds pie, cottage pie, rissoles, or a royal favorite, bubble and squeak. The queen hates wasting money. She will often go round her homes turning off the lights before she goes to bed, normally around 11 p.m.
The queen even gets her fine wines for entertaining on the cheap. Visiting heads of state and other VIPs quaff rare vintages worth thousands of pounds, not knowing they were bought for a fraction of their true value. Under a long-standing agreement, Buckingham Palace buys wines from the Foreign Office cellars at Lancaster House, but only for the price they cost decades ago. The queen frowns upon smoking, having seen her father George VI die young from lung cancer. Prince Philip gave up the habit on the eve of his marriage as a "wedding gift" to his beautiful young princess.
During one economy drive, she substituted expensive champagne normally used at banquets with Tesco's own supermarket brand because, "who can tell the difference when it is served wrapped in white cloth?" She doesn't even like the taste of "champers" and merely wets her lips with it when proposing toasts at banquets.
The royals have been treated to sumptuous feasts prepared by some of the world's top chefs on their travels. But they have also had to eat some hideous traditional dishes so as not to offend their hosts. Rats, slugs, and sheep's heads complete with staring eyes have been among the "delicacies" they would rather have declined. The queen was served rat stew when she visited the Central American country of Belize, and afterward said that it tasted like rabbit. In fact, it was a gibnut, similar to a large chipmunk. But the rodent is still a firm favorite in Belize restaurants where it is billed as "Royal Rat" or "Rat eaten by Her Majesty Queen Liz."
On an historic tour of China in 1986, the queen was presented with a sea slug, a purple, slimy specimen about three inches long. She had been warned about some of the dishes that would be served up at the banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, and she had spent hours at Buckingham Palace learning how to use chopsticks. The sea cucumber, or echinoderm, arrived in a sealed brown earthenware pot. All eyes were on her as she delicately lifted the lid, and, using her ivory chopsticks, poked around inside. She lifted the slippery morsel to her mouth and down it went, without a change of expression. "Delicious," she said, turning to her hosts. It was a brave display, unlike an aide who pretended to drop the slug on the floor, and claimed she couldn't find it under the table. Later, Her Majesty said it was a bit like shrimp, and her verdict on shark fin soup was that it "tasted of not much." On a visit to the exotic South Sea island of Tonga, she nervously followed the local custom of eating roast suckling pig with her fingers, pulling pieces from the animal which still had its head and tail.