While Queen Victoria is known for a lot of things, like having the longest reigning monarch in UK history and surviving six assassination attempts, perhaps the most notable were her strange eating habits
The Victorian era was full of questionable decisions and dangerous diets, and the queen’s way of eating was, well, completely out of the norm.
While most women in that time period chose to deprive themselves of food, often going so far as to swallow tapeworms to stay dangerously thin, Queen Victoria had a voracious appetite for food, and everyone knew it. She loved to eat, and she ate a lot.
At the same time, the queen was known to be quite obsessive about her weight, at least during the earlier years of her rule.
Later in life, she was considered nearly obese, and when a pair of her old underwear was uncovered many, many years later, it became clear that the speculation was pretty accurate.
Still, the queen’s appetite for food reflected her hearty appetite for life, which doesn’t necessarily seem like a bad thing!
You’re going to be royally surprised by all the eating habits we’ve discovered:
1. She grew up with a rigorous regime of controlled eating
Growing up Victoria’s parents controlled when and what she was allowed to eat.
According to History Extra, her diet was restrictive and lacked flavor.
She ate things like plain bread and milk for dinner, and as a result, she swore she would eat more food when she was older.
While being deprived in her childhood contributed to her voracious appetite, Victoria’s relatives always worried about her, especially as a teen.
As noted in The Private Life of the Queen by a Member of the Royal Household, an anonymous account published in 1901 revealed even as a princess she ate, “a little too much, and almost always a little too fast”.
Like many people can relate to, the Queen had a weakness for potatoes.
2. She wouldn’t eat anything that wasn’t in season.
Like a true queen, Victoria only ate food when it was at its best.
An anonymous account published in 1901, called The Private Life of the Queen by a Member of the Royal Household, revealed, “She never permits her own table or that of her household to be served with anything that is out of season.”
I mean, if you’re royal and not paying for it, why not?
Honestly, we kind of love the idea of a woman taking control and knowing what she wants, especially in 1894.
3. She liked to give herself plenty of options for breakfast.
Before the saying proclaimed breakfast as the most important meal, Queen Victoria was already living for brunch.
History Extra divulged that Victoria’s breakfast was full of different choices, most of which were protein-heavy.
This consisted of things like porridge, fish, eggs on toast, “fancy breads,” and smoked haddock.
She also loved lamb chops for breakfast.
4. Dinner was always elaborate and featured several courses.
Victoria did not play around when it came to dinner.
According to The Spectator, she enjoyed several courses.
They would start off with a selection of soups, then move on to fish (she really loved turbot or whitebait), and then another entree of meat (she was a big fan of roast beef).
That was followed by vegetables and then sweets.
5. She really liked one particularly difficult soup.
Even Victoria’s “simple” soups were complex.
One of her favorite options was something called pale consommé.
The Spectator reported that this was made of a “labor-intensive process of clarifying veal stock with a paste of crushed eggshell and minced breastmeat.”
6. Victoria loved a buffet.
Kate Hubbard, author of Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household, told The Splendid Table that they called the buffet the “side table.”
It often consisted of more meat like venison, brawn, marrowbones, and beef.
Hubbard added, “I think the idea was that if you were feeling a little peckish, you could fill up and have a bit of extra meat.”
Future Learn noted that this love of buffets often led to criticism, since it was so uncommon.
7. She “gobbled” her food and ate very quickly.
If there was one thing Victoria was known for, it was eating quickly… really quickly.
The author of Serving Victoria: Life in the Royal Household described her as “greedy,” adding that she “gobbled” her meals down.
She also noted that Victoria didn’t like meals to last more than a half hour.
There was no taking her time to enjoy all those delicacies! She was pretty much just scarfing it all down.
8. Everyone had to stop eating when she was done.
Not only did Victoria eat very, very quickly, but she also demanded that everyone stop eating when she was finished up.
According to Express UK, the court etiquette was that Victoria was served first, and dishes were removed from the table as soon as she finished.
That meant that anyone eating with her had to eat just as quickly as she did, or they were left hungry.
9. She barely spoke throughout dinner.
With all of that fast eating, it’s not surprising that she didn’t really have time for a lot of talking.
According to The Guardian, one politician who ate a meal with Victoria wrote, “I personally never heard her say anything at dinner which I remembered the next day. Her manners were not affable; she spoke very little at meals, and she ate fast and very seldom laughed.”
Who could talk when they’re eating multiple courses in a half hour?!
10. There was no pausing between courses for the queen.
Victoria didn’t just eat individual dishes quickly, she ate the entire meal that fast.
According to Express UK, one guest of her dinner party once wrote, “The Queen ate everything, even cheese and a pear after dinner.
No courses: dinner is served straight on, and when you finish one dish you, get the next, without a pause for breath.”
At least she was efficient!
11. She really loved potatoes.
There were some foods that Victoria loved more than others, naturally – aren’t we all that way?
According to History Extra the queen was a very big fan of potatoes. In The Private Life of the Queen by a Member of the Royal Household, it was written, “Her Majesty confesses to a great weakness for potatoes, which are cooked for her in every conceivable way.”
Sounds pretty good to us!
12. She was also a huge fan of sweets and desserts.
We don’t know for sure which part of the meal was Victoria’s favorite, but it was probably dessert.
She loved sweets!
History Extra says dessert typically included options like mulled wine, ice cream, cakes, and pastries.
One anonymous account from 1901 stated that she loved, “chocolate sponges, plain sponges, wafers of two or three different shapes, langues de chat, biscuits and drop cakes of all kinds, tablets, petit fours, princess and rice cakes, pralines, almond sweets, and a large variety of mixed sweets.”
13. She was especially into pie.
One of her favorite options for dessert was pie of all flavors and kinds.
That same anonymous source said, “Her Majesty is very fond of all kinds of pies, and a cranberry tart with cream is one of her favorite dishes.”
Can you really blame her, though? Pie is delicious, and a cranberry tart sounds very, very good.
14. Queen Victoria was also a drinker who loved whiskey.
Victoria didn’t stay away from booze either.
History Extra says she was a whiskey lover, something she got from John Brown, a close Scottish friend.
In fact, there was a small distillery near Balmoral that made a special whiskey just for her, and she drank it with soda water.
There are also reports that in 1942, she drank a glass of Atholl brose (which is a mix of whiskey and honey) that was served out of a glass that belonged to Niel Gow, a legendary Scottish fiddler.
15. Overall, her diet was really meat heavy.
As you may have noticed, Victoria loved meat – she was even regularly eating lamb chops for breakfast!
That’s not exactly a typical morning food.
Her dinners largely consisted of meat, as did her lunches.
Hubbard told The Splendid Table that this actually wasn’t too odd for the times, saying Victorians in general ate a lot of meat.
16. Sometimes she had longer dinners where she was more friendly.
Although it has been noted that Victoria was quiet throughout dinner and simply ate quickly, some of her dinner parties seem like they were a lot more fun and exciting.
According to The Daily Mail, most of these really long dinners were women only, and she opened up more around all females than she did when males were there as well.
I guess it all depends on the mood.
She would even “roar with laughter,” which was not a typical way for Victorian women to behave.
17. Speaking of behaving, Victoria’s entire way of eating was not the way she was expected to be as a woman.
Overeating, eating quickly, and thoroughly enjoying your food was not something that was considered normal for women in the Victorian era.
As History Extra points out, they were expected to eat only small amounts, they were not supposed to show their love for food, and they were supposed to be extremely polite.
Listen up history buffs!
They were also supposed to dine on more bland “dainty” options rather than the foods Victoria loved.
So, hats off to the queen!
18. She tended to bring food with her wherever she went.
According to The Daily Mail, Victoria usually had food packed for her when she went away for the day or went traveling – just in case there wasn’t enough to eat.
This typically consisted of tea and cakes.
In one report, she went to a charity ball at the Italian Opera House in London and brought a “light” dinner of rice soup, ham, tongue, lobster salad, cold chicken, plovers’ eggs, sandwiches, eggs, patisserie, jellies, and creams.
19. She had an adventurous appetite and liked to try new things.
Victoria loved elaborate French food, and her dinners usually consisted of heavy French dishes.
But she also wasn’t afraid to try new foods. The Daily Mail says that she tried bird’s nest soup from China in 1884, and really loved an ostrich egg omelette she had in France.
According to Express UK, she began to enjoy bustard and turtle after becoming Empress of India in 1877, and she also loved curry.
20. The way Victoria ate made her suffer from indigestion and gas.
Is it any surprise that Victoria had some digestion issues?
Her penchant for eating a lot of food very quickly led her to deal with lots of indigestion and gas, and the unhealthy food she ate plenty of didn’t help matters.
That’s just uncomfortable.
The Daily Mail says that her doctor, Dr. Reid, once noted that Victoria thought she was having a heart attack, when, really, she just had a lot of “flatulence.”
In other words: she was really bloated and gassy.
21. When the doctor told her how to fix the indigestion, though, she didn’t really take the advice.
When doctors suggested Victoria diet, History Extra reports that she would simply eat “diet foods” on top of all of the regular foods she was already eating.
So, basically, she was eating more.
And when the doctor told her to take medication for the indigestion, she just took it after eating all the food she normally took, instead of trying to adjust her diet, like suggested.
22. She started eating a lot more when her husband, Albert, died.
When Albert passed away, Victoria was a heartbroken wreck, and, according to The Guardian, she turned to food for comfort.
This is really when she started to gain a lot of weight and become more on the obese side.
The Guardian wrote, “After Albert’s death, she became a trenchant if joyless eater, ploughing through course after course, still gobbling.”
23. The queen continued to eat a lot in her old age.
Victoria didn’t slow down as she got older.
According to Express UK, she still ate six-course meals well into her 70s, and in 1897, the Aga Khan wrote about their experience eating with the queen, saying, “The dinner was long and elaborate – course after course – three or four choices of meat, a hot pudding and an iced pudding, a savory and all kinds of hothouse fruit – slow and stately in its serving. We sat down at a quarter past nine and it must have been a quarter to 11 before it was all over. The Queen, in spite of her age, ate and drank heartily – every kind of wine that was offered, and every course, including both the hot and the iced pudding.”
24. People knew she was dying when she stopped eating as much.
It wasn’t until Queen Victoria was close to death that her appetite got smaller.
She stopped eating quite as much and that’s how people had a feeling she would pass soon.
According to The Royal Central, her last journal entry in January 1901 was about how she had only been able to ingest a little milk in the morning.
That’s pretty depressing, when you think about it.