The royal family has countless etiquette rules to follow, and according to Reader’s Digest, one of the most important rules, specifically for the royal family’s women, is to never sit with their legs crossed over their knees. Members of the royal family are also expected to enter rooms in the order of succession, and they aren’t allowed to vote, take selfies, or sign autographs. As far as rules for dining goes, there is a specific napkin etiquette where royal family members must wipe their faces inside the napkin’s fold, so as to not make a mess on their clothes. Furthermore, anyone who had the honor of dining with the Queen was supposed to stop eating when she did, regardless of if they were full or not.
Queen Elizabeth II was also specific about what she ate and how it was prepared, according to chef Darren McGrady, who served as the palace chef for the royal family, including Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, Prince William, and Prince Harry. (During his time at the palace, McGrady also cooked for a few United States presidents such as Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush.) And as the chef cooked in the Royal Kitchen at Buckingham Palace for over 10 years, he gained more than enough knowledge of what the Queen did and didn’t like.
Queen Elizabeth II didn’t eat fast food
One food McGrady shared that Queen Elizabeth II didn’t eat was fast food. (Ironically enough, Queen Elizabeth II actually owned a fast food restaurant … sort of.) 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. McGrady told Insider, "They would have burgers, but not the buns. So they would eat it with their knife and fork."
The royal family would occasionally request a barbecue in the hills of Balmoral Castle, the Queen’s summer home in Scotland. McGrady shared, "It always tickled me at Balmoral, we would make our own burgers." But if you thought the Queen ate standard all-beef patties, you’d be wrong: "They would shoot deer, and we would do venison burgers. There’d be gorgeous cranberry and everything stuffed into them," McGrady divulged.
The Queen also avoided shellfish
According to BBC News, Queen Elizabeth II stayed away from shellfish and instructed other members of the royal family to abstain from eating it as well. Because the Queen and other royal family members have extremely busy schedules, it was of utmost importance to her that they avoid getting sick or contracting food poisoning. However, not all royal family members abide by this request. In fact, Prince William revealed that he and his wife, Duchess Kate Middleton, actually love sushi, and King Charles was seen in 2013 tasting oysters at the Whitstable Oyster Festival (via The Independent).
The Queen’s fear of shellfish poisoning may have been a just one, as paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) is one of the most aggressive, widespread types of shellfish poisoning, per the CDC. It happens when someone consumes shellfish tarnished by saxitoxins, with clams and mussels causing most PSP cases. The body may react to shellfish poisoning by a tingling or loss of feeling in the legs, arms, face, tongue, and lips, and these symptoms usually show up about a half hour to an hour after eating contaminated shellfish. There have been documented cases of PSP all over the world, including in Ireland and Scotland, which is likely one justification for the Queen’s fear.
Garlic and onions were off limits
According to an interview McGrady gave to the DailyMail, the Queen hated garlic and forbade dishes containing the ingredient from being served at any table she was seated at. However, just as some royal family members love shellfish even though Her Majesty avoids it, the Queen’s husband was a big fan of garlic. The former palace chef said, "We could never serve garlic to the queen but Prince Philip loved it. If we were at Balmoral and she [Queen Elizabeth II] was out, we’d slather his [Prince Philip’s] steak in garlic."
As far as onions go, it seems the Queen allowed them to be used in small amounts (via Newsweek). The Queen’s upbringing could be one reason why she avoided these stinky foods: "She was very Victorian and believed … that you don’t eat garlic — because if you were holding an audience the next day, you didn’t want to be breathing garlic. It was seen as anti-social," McGrady explained.
For Queen Elizabeth, pizza was off the menu
In an interview with Us Weekly, chef Darren McGrady said that Queen Elizabeth never once requested pizza (via Us Magazine). The former palace chef explained he began to make the classic Italian dish when he moved to Kensington Palace to cook for Princess Diana, sharing that Prince William was a big fan of the food. The chef even created a special pizza just for the Prince, combing two of his favorite dishes: chicken tikka masala pizza.
Given her family’s fondness for pizza, why did it never appear on the royal dinner table? Chef McGrady shared with Insider, "The menus at Buckingham Palace are very traditional French, which wouldn’t lean towards having pizza on it." McGrady further explained the Queen’s reason for not eating particular foods, saying, "Her Majesty’s Victorian upbringing dictates that the only thing you would pick up and eat with your fingers is afternoon tea."
So, what did Queen Elizabeth eat?
Of course, there were a few dishes Queen Elizabeth did enjoy. Her Majesty was a big lover of chocolate (especially dark chocolate, per Us Magazine) and she appreciated foods that were either harvested or hunted from the land of any of her many residences.
"She loved game too and even more so if it’s from off the estate — whether it was salmon, deer from Balmoral [Castle] or maybe some venison from Sandringham [House]," McGrady disclosed in an interview with Us Weekly. The Queen was also known to pick her own strawberries when at Balmoral from time to time, to be eaten fresh with chocolate mousse or ice cream (via Vanity Fair). The strawberries were also sometimes made into jam, McGrady revealed on YouTube, which was slathered on sandwiches or served with Queen Elizabeth’s famous drop scones.
The Queen also loved one specific chocolate cake made with tea biscuits so much that TODAY reports she would have any leftovers from afternoon tea brought from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle so she could enjoy the dessert at her leisure. This cake also served as Prince William’s groom’s cake, with McGrady sharing the Prince became fond of it after many teas spent by his grandmother’s side.