Queen Elizabeth II of England, 91, has a list of duties that includes attending banquets and jubilees, appointing officials to obscure high offices, and receiving and entertaining visitors including assorted ambassadors, archbishops, ministers, generals, chiefs of state and various excellencies.
The Queen’s hectic schedule demands equal amounts of polite conversation and extravagant dining. So how does she stay healthy and fit?
“The Queen’s not really bothered about food. All she cares about are horses and dogs,” said her former chef Darren McGrady, who worked for Elizabeth and her family from 1982 through 1993.
In fact, he says he is often asked why the Queen doesn’t “get big from eating all that opulent food”: five-course banquets of dishes with heavy sauces and elaborate mousses, followed by the inevitable glace ice cream.
The nights when she’s on her own, she’ll stick to grilled or poached fish with some vegetables and salad, but no potatoes or starch.
“That’s it. That’s all she has,” CNN quoted McGrady as saying. “She’s very disciplined like that. She could have anything she wanted, but it is that discipline that keeps her so well and so healthy.”
The Queen’s simply the kind of person who eats to live rather than living to eat, adds McGrady, and proof can be found in the kitchen itself.
“The chefs and food and kitchens come last. They’re still using pots and pans from the 1800s, with the Queen Victoria stamp on them, at Buckingam Palace,” he said. While working at the palace, he would ask the Royals, “Don’t you want some new pots and pans?”
“No, no, no, we need the money to buy horses and saddles,” he’d be told.
“The queen loves to eat food from the estate,” said McGrady, who worked at the five-star Savoy Hotel in London before getting his gig at Buckingham Palace. Home-grown vegetables, fish, pheasant, anything off the various estates — Balmoral, Buckingham and Windsor Palaces — is what the Queen enjoys most.
“She’s also a chocoholic,” he confided. “It has to be the dark chocolate, the darker the better. She wasn’t keen on milk chocolate or white chocolate.”
Does she exercise? McGrady laughs at the question.
“I don’t think she has a weight room at Buckingham Palace, but she loves horse-riding and walking the dogs,” he said. “She’s 91 years young, and she still goes horse riding. She’ll walk for miles with the dogs or just around the gardens at Buckingham Palace.”