Home Must Read All the Royal Family Food Rules We Never Knew They Have To Follow
Must Read

All the Royal Family Food Rules We Never Knew They Have To Follow

Asher June 7, 2022

Kings, queens, and their heirs have fascinated us for centuries. There’s the throne. There are the capes. And we all wish we lived in a castle and wore a crown. Plus, being a royal means getting to do whatever you want. Or does it? When it comes to the world of food, there seem to be just as many restrictions as privileges for those in the British royal family. They take dining etiquette to a level we could never imagine! Check out their secret regal rules, next. How would you do at dinner with the queen?

Oh you thought you were going to spike the queen’s food, did you? You’re really not going to do that. It’s pretty hard to do, it turns out. The security measures at state dinners make that almost impossible unless you want to take out the whole room. Her Majesty is always served a plate at random to avoid tricky assassination attempts. The chefs create all the separate dishes, and one is unexpectedly chosen at the end.

You Going to Have to Poison Everybody if You Want to Get the Queen

Tim Graham Picture Library / Getty Images

With this strategy, the Queen seems to be eating safely, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t trying to harm her. She has actually faced a few close calls! In 1970, a log was placed on the tracks in an attempt to cause the Queen’s train to crash. In 1982, a man broke into her bedroom twice. And throughout the years, people keep whipping out pistols trying to shoot at her. At least at dinner, they will never succeed!

We all have our own quirky way to hold a hot cup, but that’s not how royals roll. There is a protocol for drinking tea, and it’s taught to the family early on. Sure, slurping is banned. But also, teacups should be balanced with the forefinger and thumb on the top of the handle. If needed, the middle finger can assist at the base of the handle. There is no idle gripping and sipping here. William, Kate, and the rest of the gang know the proper technique.

It Turns Out There Really Is a Correct Way to Hold a Teacup

Tim Graham Picture Library / Getty Images

Not only that, but there is an order to snacking when you’re already in the tea zone. Savory items should always be eaten first. Then, sandwiches are allowed. Finally, break out the scones. Cheers!

Ever wonder why Meghan and Harry always enter royal rooms last? Well, there is a defined reason, and it has everything to do with the right to rule. Royals are required to enter in the order they would ascend to the throne. Today, that means Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Prince William and Kate Middleton, and finally, Harry and Meghan. They are all seated in that order, too.

You Must Enter Dinner in the Order of Throne Rights

Rota / Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

Some may wonder if this ritual started to wear down Harry and his Hollywood wife after a while. It must be tough to be last in the family, every single time. What do you think?

We might think that napkins are literally made for getting dirty. But is a royal supposed to be seen with a sloppy, greasy rag? Of course not! Never, in fact. To avoid this unsightly situation, etiquette has been developed. At a dining table, the royal family must fold their napkins in half. As the night goes on, they use the inside part to wipe their faces. That way, you never see the mess. It’s genius!

There Are Rules for Royals When It Comes to Napkins

Tim Graham Photo Library / Getty Images

When Meghan joined the royal family, she undoubtedly had to make adjustments. Observers wonder why she claimed to feel so restricted. There’s some chance these intense napkin regulations played a part!

Darren McGrady was the royal family’s private chef between 1982 and 1993. To our great delight, he’s been spilling the beans on their eating habits! One spice was banned the entire time he was around the palace, and it’s bound to surprise most diners. Which one? According to Darren: “The Queen would never have garlic on the menu. She hated the smell of it, she hated the taste of it.”

Garlic Is Absolutely Forbidden on the Queen's Orders

Mark Cuthbert / Pool / UK Press / Getty Images

It’s never on the menu, and it never will be. That might be because it gives you bad breath for diplomatic chats. Onions are minimized too, though not outright banned. We think Meghan the foodie couldn’t stand food so bland!

With almost unlimited money, one might think the royals throw away things they don’t finish. Like, why would you bother with Tupperware if you are the queen? But surprisingly, her majesty has ordered that the royal kitchen staff waste nothing. Dishes that are not finished at meals are saved for later meals. We’re not sure if any other monarchs are quite as frugal. Why does she have this incredible mentality?

The Queen Says No Leftovers Should Be Tossed

Dave Benett / Getty Images / Action on Addiction

One former royal chef explains that she probably picked it up living through WWII. In England, there were serious shortages during the war. The queen has been known to squeeze half a lemon, and send it back to the kitchen to be used again later. Yes, even now!

Humans all use the toilet at some point in the day. Most of us do it multiple times. That includes royals, whether or not they would like to admit it! At a royal dinner party, however, it’s important to play pretend to some degree. Everyone is encouraged to use the bathroom before the meal, to avoid the need for such breaks. But if it becomes unavoidable, there is etiquette in place.

It's Never Okay to Make a Bathroom Announcement at Dinner

Jason DeCrow / Pool / Getty Images

Royals cannot announce their intentions when they leave the table. They must simply say, “Excuse me.” No more details are necessary, and they leave it at that. That’s just how things are done, at Buckingham!

The British Empire once extended 13 million square miles and ruled 458 million people. That’s a pretty big area! And it’s also a pretty wide array of cuisine. British food is not known as being the most exciting. It actually gets some terrible reviews, at times. You might think that royals would enjoy leaving the home base and tasting local delicacies, at least for a little variety. But there’s a rule about that!

They Can't Enjoy Spicy or Exotic Foods on Trips

Mark Cuthbert / Pool / UK Press / Getty Images

Even today, as royals travel the world for charity events and diplomacy, they are told not to eat anything too spicy or exotic. That includes curry, sadly! The queen doesn’t want anyone getting an upset stomach in the middle of official state business. We suspect that getting stuck on the toilet after intense Indian food happened in the past!

When it comes to mealtime, we’re often in a hurry to sit down and get down to business. But if you’re dining with the queen, that’s not going to be appropriate at all. Don’t you dare sit before her majesty! Guests at a royal meal must follow her lead in approaching the table. Let her sit down and get comfortable, please. The same goes for leaving the table, which is not surprising.

Don't Even Think About Sitting or Leaving Before the Queen Does

Marco Secchi / Getty Images

Did you think you could leave whenever you wanted? Everyone in the royal family follows this rule, not just outside visitors to the palace. No one tries to push the boundaries here. That would be ghastly!

Does the Queen of England have a favorite fruit? It’s reported that the monarch frequently eats berries grown from her properties in her breakfast cereal. But her real guilty pleasure is a lot more exotic. She loves to indulge in a fruit discovered far away in the empire. According to former palace chef John Higgins: “The Queen really enjoyed mangoes. She could tell you how many mangos were in the fridge at Buckingham Palace.”

The Queen Needs a Mango Count at All Times in the Palace

Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

Indeed, she requests a count to make sure things always are in order, mango-wise. When she made an official state visit to Pakistan, she was photographed with staff carrying boxes of them. They’re even fresher over there!

It might seem like you see royals eating constantly in public. But do they spontaneously eat those treats? As it turns out, not really. There are rules around meals and snacks in public for royals, and for good reason. When you see them eating, they are at official events, whether it seems like it or not. As you might imagine, security has thought of everything! When it comes to making things look casual, it only looks that way,

They Can't Accept Food Unless It's at a Planned Event

Arthur Edwards / WPA Pool / Getty Images

As you might imagine, the family gets plenty of threats. To avoid being poisoned, things are planned in advance. If friendly fans hand them cupcakes in public, royals can’t try them. Sorry, everybody!

Being a prince or princess isn’t all about glam. It’s actually a lot of work! According to the office of the monarchy: “Every year the Royal Family as a whole carries out over 2,000 official engagements throughout the UK and worldwide. These engagements may include official State responsibilities.” These events are absolutely full of food. And guess what? A working royal is not allowed to turn down food while working.

They Can't Refuse if You Offer Them Food at an Official Event

Ben Stansall / WPA Pool / Getty Images

Sure, it’s nice to know that you can safely eat in these public settings, vetted by security. But sometimes, you just want to say no! As reps of the crown, they always need to be polite. No one likes to have their recipe turned down!

Seafood is an incredible pleasure for many of us, and we might assume that the royals feast on the best of the best. But we must remember that the monarchy has been around for centuries, and they have been through a lot. Back in the day, food poisoning was a real issue. Shellfish is still a common culprit, even today. For that reason, there is an old tradition that they are not allowed to consume fruits of the sea.

Eating Shellfish Is a Big No-No for Royals

Max Mumby / Indigo / Getty Images

Lobsters, oysters, and clams are never on an official royal menu in the place. But do royals obey when they’re out in their free time? Apparently not, as evidenced by plenty of footage! Here, we see Charles flouting the rule. The queen is the real stickler about this one.

British culture has been doing teatime right since the mid-1800s to fill in that pesky gap between lunch and dinner. Today, the royals still love the hot drink. Charles in particular has very specific preferences for his daily cup. Royal hospitality manager Evan Samson tells all: The prince likes loose tea leaves in the teapot, with one spoon of leaves for each cup of tea, plus one. And what about the temperature?

Preparing Tea for Prince Charles Is a Very Specific Task

Tim P. Whitby / Stringer / Getty

Well, for green tea, the water is heated to 70 degrees celsius. But it needs to be 100 degrees Celsius for a classic Earl Grey. Then, he requires organic honey in the teapot. On the table, the cups are arranged just so, with a spoon under the handle. Picky, picky!

If you’ve ever noticed that there never seem to be thirteen people at a dinner with the queen, you aren’t imagining things. The Queen actually has a rule about how many people are allowed to sit down at the table. The number can never be exactly 13. A few more or a few less is okay, but never on the mark. Is the queen superstitious about unlucky numbers, or what?

The Queen Has A Red Line for the Guest Count at Dinner

Martin H. Simon-Pool / Contributor / Getty Images

Actually no, the queen is just a good host. The number of thirteen doesn’t freak her out, but she is aware it has a bad connotation in other cultures. In the end, she just set the rule to avoid discomfort.

If there is any reason that a royal leaves the table during a formal meal, they make sure to do it right. Attentive waitstaff are always buzzing around, making sure no one has to sit in front of an old plate. To signal they are not done and will be back soon, they cross their utensils. When they truly finish, the fork and knife look completely different. What’s the protocol for that?

They Have Signals to Tell Staff They're Not Done Eating

Chris Jackson / Pool / Getty Images

That’s easy. Royals silently explain their status by placing the handles in a 4:20 clock formation. These dining traditions have been around for a very long time, and it doesn’t seem like things will be getting causal anytime soon.

With a team of world-class cooks and the best ingredients that money can buy, you might think that princes always get exactly what they want for dinner. Surely, any professional palace kitchen tries to achieve that. But sometimes, mindreading fails. The late Prince Phillip, the queen’s husband, frequently requested to trade plates with the staff. Why would do demand such a thing? Well, Phillip sometimes had his own ideas about what seems delicious on any given day.

It's Expected to Let a Royal Swap Meals With You

Indigo / Getty Images

One palace chef recounted that the prince came in and wanted to swap his plate for the workers’ lamb chops. Sometimes he just liked their rough cuts more than the luxurious slices reserved for him. If a royal asks, you trade!

When it comes to royal humans, we all know that they have VIP meals. But what about the fancy pets in their lives? As it happens, the queen loves corgi dogs. She has had many since her first corgi at age 18, and most of her modern pets have been bred from the original. Over the years, she has made sure that they eat as well as she does. They have their own menu!

The Queen's Corgis Only Eat Gourmet

Julian Parker / UK Press / Getty Images

Their caretaker designed their meals to alternate between lamb, beef, chicken, and rabbit. The meat is poached and chopped to get rid of all bones. Rice and cabbage are added to the mix too. The queen sometimes feeds them herself after the doggie bags are delivered by a royal footman.

You might think there is no right or wrong when it comes to holding a fork. But come on. Royals have opinions on these kinds of things, and it’s probably not the same as yours. Utensils are a whole subject! First, knives go in your right hand, and forks go in your left. The fork should be facing the plate but when you eat off of it, you should eat off the back. Wild stuff!

There Is Established Utensil Etiquette

Pool / Anwar Hussein Collection / Getty Images

The queen herself has a rule against using her fingers for anything besides tea. That means that she applies these fork and knife rules to everything including hamburgers, which she slices up without a bun. Even bananas are eaten with silverware!

You might wonder just how long a royal dinner is supposed to last. There is no set time, it seems. The length of the meal entirely depends on the mood of the queen. When the monarch finishes eating, she signals this by placing her purse on the table. With this move, everyone knows that dining will end within five minutes. Classy and quiet, this gets the point across without a word.

You Are Done When When the Queen Is Done

Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

Whether it is a Christmas feast or a coronation dinner, that purse comes out. The question is, will Kate Middleton do the same thing when she is queen one day?

The monarch may not be involved in the fads diets of today, but she does have her own idea of balance. Royals eat a lot of fish and organic produce. To make sure everyone stays trim, the queen banned pasta from the daily dinner menu. It is reserved for special occasions, which is fair. But the same goes for rice and potatoes since she is really trying to minimize empty carbs. That’s tough!

The Queen Is Health Conscious and Bans Pasta at Dinner

Eddie Mulholland / WPA Pool / Getty Images

But wait. There is one guilty pleasure her royal majesty indulges in, even daily. According to former royal chef Darren McGrady: “She is absolutely a chocoholic. Anything we put on the menu that had chocolate on, she would choose, especially chocolate perfection pie.” Well, well well!

Most of us probably never eat it at all. But fancy folks often dine on foie gras, a french delicacy that has been getting a lot of bad press. To make the goosey pâté, farmers force-feed their birds with a tube until they become extremely fat, and their livers become fat, too. Allegedly, it’s more delicious that way. This meat spread was banned by Charles when he figured out what they were really doing.

Charles Decided Foie Gras Cannot Be On the Royal Menu

Since 2008, it’s no longer on royal tables. The prince’s staff confirm they are told to no longer buy it. Although some family members still eat when they are out, it’s not going to be on the Buckingham menu as long as Charles is around. And he’s next in line to the throne!

When you travel, it’s always important to stay hydrated. Unfamiliar climates can really sneak up on you, and thirst can turn into fatigue. How do the royals handle themselves, in this regard? Well, like everything, there are a few rules. There’s just no time to recover from an illness during a jam-packed trip, so bottled water or juice is required. The queen doesn’t want them drinking tap water, because that varies so much. We’ve all heard horror stories about exotic vacations!

Royals Cannot Drink Tap Water While Traveling

Arthur Edwards / Pool / Getty Images

Plus, there’s that tricky poisoning issue again. When something is sealed in a bottle from the factory, it’s hard to sneak in a nasty surprise. And we don’t any of those, now do we?

When it comes to her fruits and veg, the queen is all about farm-to-table, fresh picks. And she doesn’t trust new-fangled produce! Former royal chef Darren McGrady revealed: “You can send strawberries every day to the Queen during summer at Balmoral [Castle] and she’ll never say a word…Try including strawberries on the menu in January and she’ll scrub out the line and say ‘don’t dare send me genetically modified strawberries.’ She absolutely does eat seasonal.”

Seasonal, Organic Produce Is Always in the Royal Fridge

Chris Harris / WPA Pool / Getty Images

There are plenty of things growing on the royal grounds, so the family has variety, Beans, beets, leeks, and berries are just a few things sprouting on their various properties at any given time. And everything is organic!

Lipstick is a woman’s secret weapon. The royal ladies know that well, and they use it to their advantage. They stick to neutral shades most of the time because the queen likes natural-looking makeup. But even if you look your best, you can still look sloppy if you are carrying around a cup full of kiss marks. The royals are hyper-conscious of these things. Doesn’t look very good for the camera, does it?

There Are Drinking Rules to Avoid Lipstick Stains

Chris Jackson / Pool / Getty Images

The protocol dictates that you should pick one place to sip the whole meal. Don’t spread it around the rim. In the end, there is just one mark on the inside, not all over and in the history books.

Many may not be aware of how much the queen likes to eat meat. Well, she does! One of her favorite dishes is Gaelic steak. Salt, pepper, butter, oil, mushrooms, Irish whiskey, and cream are part of this decadent recipe. But she like this dish cooked well done, according to royal chefs. Food poisoning is not going to get this tough lady! The no-rare rule applies to her family when they travel, too.

They Aren't Allowed to Eat Rare Meat During Travel

Jayne Fincher / Princess Diana Archive / Getty Images

As we all know, undercooked meat carries lots of risks. The queen has decided these risks are unnecessary. From parasites to E. coli, no real royal has time for diarrhea, vomiting, or cramps during their duties abroad.

By now, you should realize that being a member of the royal family may not be all it’s cracked up to be, if you’re not a stickler for rules. Many of us are not! From start to finish, protocol rules the day. You’ve got to greet and eat with the queen in a certain way, and you can’t sit the way you want. Does all this stuff really apply 24/7?

Palace Dinner Rules Do Not Apply in Public

Rota / Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

There still are rules about eating in public, to be sure. But another layer of the protocol is flexibility, actually. In order not to embarrass people outside the palace, royals know they can slightly bend the rules when it is necessary. The public they serve isn’t a part of these things, and won’t understand a snub!

It’s not a strict rule, because it’s not always possible, but the queen likes to cut cakes with a sword. Why use a simple knife when you are the Queen of England? It’s just ceremonial, of course. But it does bring a certain gravitas to your stand cake cutting. It seems she is well aware! For the G7 Summit in 2021, she broke out this one lent to her by The Lord-Lieutenant of Cornwall, Edward Bolitho.

The Queen Prefers to Use a Little Sword for Cake Cutting

Oli Scarff / WPA Pool / Getty Images

What else is he even using it for, these days? Cake seems appropriate, actually. Leaders from the USA, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, and Canada all enjoyed slices from this dramatic cutting.

If you think the queen is above meal planning, you would be wrong. She actually loves to be involved in the process! Each week, she receives red leather-bound menus in french and crosses out what she doesn’t like. According to the former royal chef, the menus would be prepared three days in advance. ​With qualified staff to carry out her requests, she can ask for almost anything, of course. But he said she’s not such a foodie, preferring to stick to the same tried and tested hits.

The Queen Approves the Weekly Menu for Palace Meals

David Parker / WPA Pool / Getty Images

Believe it or not, the queen actually stops by the kitchen on occasion. When this occurs, there is a rule: All cooking must stop. Even if something is hot in the pan, everyone must stand at attention while she is present.

Big dinner events at Buckingham Palance are a big deal, to say the least. In recent memory, guests have included American presidents like Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Every step of the way, her majesty is involved in approving the food and decor. But what about the seating arrangement? Now that’s an issue that has a lot of potentials to get awkward. What if two rivals are seated too close?

Royal Seating Is Managed by a Professional Team

Marco Secchi / Getty Images

Don’t worry, there’s special staff just for that. The Office of the Marshal of the Court takes great care to make sure that guests are ushered to their rightful spots. Professional, courteous, and royal are how these things are always done.

You didn’t think you were going to show up in jeans for dinner, did you? We didn’t think so. Even the queen’s own family shows up for a meal in formalwear, believe it or not. This doesn’t just mean official state events. It’s an everyday thing, and there are rules about dressing up. We know you’ve been eating on the couch in your pajamas, but that’s not an option here.

Royal Dinner Attire Is Always Formal

Eric Feferberg / AFP / Getty Images

What do the royal fashion police want, at a meal? Be trendy somewhere else, just not here! No cleavage, please. Really, be modest, in general — this applies to men and women.

If you find yourself next to her majesty, be prepared. The protocol of royal dinners extends to the conversation, not just food and formalwear. Wait for the queen to start a conversation with you, on her terms. Those who have been to many of these vents know there is even an order to that! The queen begins by talking to the guest On her right. After the first course is done, she switches to the other side.

Dinner Conversations Are Purposely Formulaic

Georges De Keerle / Getty Images

Expect that she will ask you a lot of questions. She likes to know more about you, rather than talk about herself. Rarely will you hear her own opinion at a meal!

It’s not going to surprise anyone to hear that royals are not supposed to be seen stumbling around., drunk in public. But occasionally, they do drink. That’s okay, according to the palace rules, as long as it is at an officially sanctioned event., As always, the concerns about spiked drinks apply. All those assassins lurking around are advised to give up, now. You’re just not going to be able to get to the royal beer.

Royals Can Drink Publicly, but Only at Official Events

Chris Jackson / Getty Images

That seems to be the drink of choice, by the way. Pictures galore have been snapped of just about every family member with a glass at one event or another. Cheers, Charles!

While there are tons of extra rules none of us would ever demand at home, there is one thing that should not be forgotten. Not everything has to be spelled out. Regular manners are always in play, like chewing with your mouth open or burping in someone’s face. Royals go to the best schools, and even go to finishing schools, to get t their manners just right. It’s a way of life!

Regular Table Manners Are Always in Play

Tim P. Whitby / Pool / Getty Images

Meghan Markle seems to have felt the basics were enough for her American sensibilities. Now, she and Harry are off eating finger foods somewhere in California. Is that more fun? Probably, yes.

The royal family has been involved in hunting for centuries. These days, it’s not necessary to find food. It’s a bit of a sport and a tradition! The modern family loves to continue the hunt, and they do on their extensive grounds. Usually, this means taking down foxes, deer, and hares. While they don’t eat the foxes, they do ask the kitchen staff to prepare the deer and hares.

The Royals Usually Eat the Animals They Hunt

Barry Batchelor / PA Images / Getty Images

When Meghan came into the picture, there were some disputes about this activity. But for now, the family still has a major shooting day for the men. Royal regulations place it on the calendar every year, the day after Christmas. Rabbit stew, coming right up!