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What Queen Elizabeth II was really like at Balmoral behind closed doors

Darren McGrady was personal chef to Queen Elizabeth II for 15 years

queen at balmoral
Georgia Brown
Georgia BrownLifestyle Writer
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News of Queen Elizabeth II's death rocked the nation, with more than 29 million people in the UK tuning in to watch her funeral on Monday 19 September.

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While the late monarch left behind her beloved children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the Queen's death also touched the hearts of her loyal members of staff who served at the royal residences throughout her reign. Former royal chef Darren McGrady, who was personal chef to the Queen for over a decade, took to YouTube to share a heartfelt tribute in memory of the longest-reigning British monarch.

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Darren's video, simply titled 'Cooking for the Queen', gave royal fans a rare insight into what the Queen was really like behind closed doors - particularly when she was at her happiest at her Scottish bolthole at Balmoral Castle.

In Darren's words, the Queen's life in London and royal duties were executed with "military precision", but it was at Balmoral that the monarch would truly relax, even riding on horseback into the hills with a Tupperware full of picnic sandwiches.

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queen horses

Darren explained that the Queen was always happiest at Balmoral

Reflecting on the Queen's jewel in the Scottish Highlands where she died, Darren said: "Balmoral was so peaceful and tranquil, and there's no wonder the Queen wanted to spend her last days there."

Darren shared that the royal's personality shifted whenever she retired to Balmoral for the summer months.

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Metaphorically, the chef told viewers that the Queen would drive through the gates of the estate, "hang up her crown" and say: "I'm now going to be a mother, I'm going to be grandmother, I'm going to spend time with my family.'"

"Seeing her there, whether it was walking the dogs, riding, walking along with Prince William as a young boy on his Shetland Pony, Smokey, with the Queen leading the way with her beaming smile - it's nothing but happy memories," said Darren.

darren mcgrady

Darren McGrady was the Queen's personal chef for 15 years

Darren fondly recalled a time when he mistook the Queen for a thief plotting to steal the abundance of fruit in Balmoral's allotment.

"I crept in quietly and went into the fruit cages… but to my surprise, I bumped into the Queen and Princess Margaret in there," he said. The late monarch then asked the chef to make a jam from the fruit she had picked.

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