The Queen's former royal chef Darren McGrady has provided several glimpses into royal dining traditions over the years, including the secret code Her Majesty uses to communicate with the kitchen staff.
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With the palace kitchens full of professional chefs ready to whip up delicious seasonal delicacies every day, it begs the question: how does the Queen choose what to eat? And how does that tie in with her schedule? It turns out there is a royal menu, of course.
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While the 94-year-old has been known to mark up the menu and send it back to the chefs so they have plenty of time to prepare the ingredients, this royal tradition may all be about to change following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Darren – who cooked for the Queen, Prince Philip, Princess Diana, Prince William and Prince Harry – previously revealed he would present the monarch with a red leather-bound book full of recipes written in French for her to choose from. He explained: "We prepared the menus three days ahead so we could get the food in. The chefs would pick the menus and she would put a line through the ones she didn't want."
The monarch marks up the menus to communicate with royal chefs
Meanwhile, the menu markings even had special meanings, according to the documentary Secrets of the Royal Kitchen. Darren said: "If she’s out for dinner she’ll put a line through the page, and if she has a guest coming she’ll put two or three, so we know she is entertaining."
The Queen lets the kitchen know when she plans to entertain guests
The Queen is currently staying with the Duke of Edinburgh at their Scottish residence, Balmoral Castle, where she is often visited by members of the royal family including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. However, even if the monarch does receive guests, which is less likely following the COVID-19 outbreak, the concept of several people handling the same menu may have to be abandoned in order to minimise contact with germs.
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