When we think about the royal family, we often think of decadence and splendor — their lifestyles an experience we could never imagine. We watch their fashion, we guess their baby names, and we go manic when they get married. But what about their food?
Are they eating caviar and sipping on expensive wine each and every day, or are they roughin’ it with a secret McDonald’s run?
We already know that Meghan Markle has a deep passion for food (she even co-wrote a cookbook) and that the royal kiddos have to follow a few specific and sort of quirky food rules — but what about the day to day? And what about royal banquets? Can they indulge in a pint after a long day? Do they enjoy a nice fry-up or some fish n’ chips? (Actually, yes. William and Kate order a curry in while watching Game of Thrones). And what about England’s kings and queens of the past? Is it all turkey legs and meade? The answer is, basically.
Let’s look at what England’s royal bloodline has dined on throughout history, starting with a look at the royal family’s tastes in food today:
The Queen eats pretty health consciously.
The Queen has always been in very good health. This may be due to the fact that she doesn’t smoke, unlike most of her family — as well as her smart diet. In fact, she strays from non-nutritious starchy foods like pasta and potatoes and bread (especially for meals like lunch), and instead focuses on cleaner eats, like grilled fish and freshly-picked strawberries and raspberries — you know, from her own estate in Balmoral, Scotland. And if the Queen does eat pasta, it’s freshly-made —and not out of a box. The only catch: She will only eat seasonal fruits, so if it wasn’t born of the earth at that time, she’s not touching it.
The only thing off the menu? Garlic and shellfish — both are forbidden.
Why, you ask? While shellfish may get one of the royals sick, the Queen just thinks garlic is straight-up gross. And if she doesn’t like it, it won’t found in any royal dishes.
The Queen enjoys a nice Sunday roast.
Just like any other family, the Queen and her king like to chow on a Sunday roast, which typically contains roasted meat, roast potato, Yorkshire pudding, veggies and gravy. The Queen, according to the Telegraph, likes her meat well done, says a former chef. Oh, and she likes her mushrooms cooked with a dash of Marmite! Marmite certainly is an acquired taste.
The Queen, actually, is not a foodie nor a big lover of food. In fact, one former chef says, “Sadly, the Queen is not a foodie. She eats to live, unlike Prince Philip who loves to eat and would stand and talk food all day,” according to the Telegraph.
The Queen sure loves a stiff drink
Much has been written about the Queen’s love for a good drink. While perhaps exaggerated, it’s probable that she enjoys a drink as often as we all do. After all, she is a country’s leader with a lot on her mind — so we think she deserves her gin and Dubonnet (with a lemon slice and some ice, just as her mother, the Queen Mother, did).
Reportedly, she also enjoys wine and champagne throughout her day.
Even the royal corgis eat well
One former chef recalls making an elaborate, delicious dish: “I simmered rabbit, cooked down some chicken, then finely chopped the meat, sieved the stock and returned the meat…It was the corgis’ dog food.” In fact, the royal corgis are much-beloved and have long been a part of royal history. Apparently, the Queen has owned over 30 corgis since her coronation in 1952. The royal corgis even have their own Wikipedia page.
Prince Charles is a fan of organic and foraged foods.
It’s well-known that the Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, are fans of organic and sustainable eats — and good on them for promoting that! In fact, Prince Charles been called “one of the forerunners of the organic movement,” according to Today. Prince Charles owns an organic farm, one of the very first to be certified fully organic English farms, at Highgrove House, his private residence.
Prince Charles grows fruits and veggies on the land and has his menus planned around foods that can be foraged — like wild mushrooms.
Yum! We wonder if he likes marmite on his mushrooms, too?
Let’s go a little further back in time and look at some of England’s kings and queens’ favorite feasting foods and dishes:
Queen Victoria ate some seriously decadent foods.
During Queen Victoria’s reign — which lasted 63 years from 1837 to 1901 — important occasions would see the Queen eating cod and oyster sauce, duck in Cumberland sauce (a fruit sauce), and roast lamb. Desserts would include chocolate profiteroles (also known as a creme puff drizzled in chocolate). During important dinners, diners were served fine wine and madeira, although Queen Victoria herself would drink whisky. It’s safe to say Victoria had great taste.
In fact, Queen Victoria was a huge fan of food in general and had to be kept on a restrained diet as a child.
Interestingly, Queen Victoria was known to eat her food super quickly. Banquets would last for several hours, but she’d be done with all seven of her courses in about a half hour, according to the BBC. When the food is that good, why not wolf it down?
When she wasn’t eating at a royal banquet, she’d still have pretty delicious meals. For breakfast, for example, she’d have porridge, eggs on toast, fish (like haddock) and fancy bread, according to History Extra.
She also LOVED potatoes, according to The Private Life of the Queen by a Member of the Royal Household, which wrote: “Her Majesty confesses to a great weakness for potatoes, which are cooked for her in every conceivable way.”
Fun fact: The dinner table with Queen Victoria is where several rules of etiquette were born. In one infamous case, someone told a joke to the Queen when she allegedly uttered, “We are not amused.”
It was said that Queen Victoria barked this phrase at a dinner at Windsor Castle, although this cannot be verified. In fact, she was known to be a very sweet woman, despite her rather intense facial expression.
King Charles II, who reigned from 1660 to 1685, was a major foodie.
He was all about food fanfare and would host elaborate eating rituals at least once per week. During this time, he would be served 26 dishes by his own master chef, including egg and ambergris, which is eggs with a side of pungent-smelling whale waste. King Charles II would sit at his raised table, under a canopy, with just a handful of people at his side. Below him, everyone else would eat. He also — wait for it — had a personal assistant who would dab his mouth for him during his meal. Talk about living decadently!
King Charles II also loved pineapple and was probably the first person who ate it in England.
During this time, people didn’t even food in courses, but there were “stages of service,” according to the BBC. These stages might involve hundreds of plates of food, many of them including meat and root veggies.
Interestingly, the first real recorded evidence of ice cream occurred during King Charles II’ reign, when it has listed on a menu.
It’s said that ice cream was born from Persian sherbert, which was popularized in Italy after the Persians conquered Sicily. When Catherine de’ Medici tried it in Florence, she brought the dessert to Versailles and had King Henry II, her husband, try it. And there, sherbert evolved into ice cream and became the thing we know and love.
Henry VIII, who reigned from 1509 to 1547, also knew how to throw a serious foodie party.
Henvy VIII known to have a serious appetite — both for food and for murder. Apparently, his palace was filled to the brim with kitchens and cooks, all full of people cooking and preparing food.
In act, Henry VIII was said to have almost 20 kitchens.
As one Spanish visitor stated about his visit to Hampton’s Court, “There are usually eighteen kitchens in full blast and they seem veritable hells, such is the stir and bustle in them … there is plenty of beer here, and they drink more than would fill the Valladolid river.”
Henvy VII’s dozens of kitchens were full of pig-roasting spits and open fireplaces.
Hampton’s Court also has “50 smaller rooms for dealing with fish, making pastries, or pickling and bottling,” according to Owlcation. So with all that to-do, what was the king actually eating? Well, he chowed down on the good stuff — you know, like swan, venison, peacock, heron, and seagull. Yes, you read that correctly. They were eating peacocks! For goodness sake, they were eating the poor peacocks!
They did some peculiar things to the peacocks when they cooked them.
While we’re used to ostentatious shows of wealth from the royal family today, none are so quirky as what they did to the poor peacocks back then: According to Peter Hammond, author of Life In A Medieval Town, “Sometimes the skin of a peacock would be carefully removed along with the feathers…Once cooked they were replaced, as if it were still alive. They did this to show wealth.”
Queen Anne Boleyn probably loved venison.
It was said that Henry VIII wooed Anne with gifts of venison, also a symbol of courtship.
It’s safe to say that she probably liked venison a lot, then? And that wouldn’t be too far of from what the Queen of England is eating today. According to Mashed, the Queen loves to eat venison that has been reared, caught and hunted on lands she owns, like Sandringham or Balmoral.