The Queen threw open the doors of Windsor Castle on Monday evening to host a special dinner for the queen of cookery, Delia Smith. The 91-year-old monarch, who was joined by her second son Prince Andrew, also invited Delia's husband Michael Wynn-Jones, Sir James Dyson, the billionaire inventor and his wife Lady Dyson, and academic Mona Siddiqui, who is professor of Islamic and interreligious studies at the University of Edinburgh.
Guests would have been treated to dishes made by royal chefs at Windsor; the Queen has been staying at her official residence since Easter, while her husband Prince Philip has remained in hospital in central London. Philip, 96, underwent a successful, planned hip replacement operation last week.
Delia at her investiture ceremony last year
Delia, one of Britain's best-loved TV cooks, has a long-standing relationship with the royal family. In the Queen's 2009 Birthday Honours, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition for her contribution to television cookery and recipe writing. Last year, the talented chef was made a member of the prestigious Order of the Companions of Honour for services to cookery.
Delia is not the only celebrity chef to have dined with the Queen. James Martin recently opened up about his "surreal" meeting with Her Majesty. The former Saturday Kitchen star was invited to a private reception at Buckingham Palace, where the conversation soon turned to the monarch's adorable pet pooches – her corgis!
Speaking to Christine Lampard on ITV's Lorraine, James said: "We just sat there talking about corgi dogs, and it's weird because I love my dogs so you're just sat there, and it's very surreal. I remember walking out of there. The first person I called was my mother and I said, 'You're never going to believe what's happened.' It was just an amazing experience."
The TV chef, 45, admitted he was surprised to be invited to the intimate gathering. "It was a real pinch yourself moment," he said. "Clearly Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay were busy that day, and I got the invite. It was amazing, a phenomenal experience."