Christmas Dinner fit for the Queen

Have you ever wondered what the Royals eat on Christmas Day? Whilst we tuck into traditional Christmas food, are the royal family sharing a similar festive feast? Or do they have their own traditions?

We all have our own family traditions and the royal family are no different. The senior family members rarely break royal Christmas traditions and former royal senior chef, Darren McGrady, has revealed what the Royals eat on Christmas Day. Shedding light on how the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate, their children and the whole royal family enjoy their festive fare.

So, as Christmas fast approaches, find out what the Royals eat on Christmas Day – you may be surprised at some of the less traditional elements…

What do the Royals eat on Christmas Day?
There’s no worrying about being too “full up” for the big lunch in the royal household as the family enjoy a full cooked breakfast before they go to church together, as is tradition on Christmas day.

When they return from church, then it is time for the main Christmas meal. Darren said: “The Royal’s are like us all in the fact they have their favourite dishes and as you would imagine they are quite traditional at Christmas. Their favourite dishes include Potted Shrimp, Beef Bourguignon, Shredded Brussels sprouts with onions and bacon, Bubble and Squeak and Date Apple Pastry.

“The Queen always enjoys a roast turkey with all the trimmings for Christmas Day lunch, as well as a salad with a shrimp or a lobster.” But which trimmings, exactly?

Darren explained: “Usually it was homemade sage and onion stuffing, Brussels sprouts with bacon and chestnuts, sometimes parsnips and carrots – it varied year to year – mashed potatoes and roast potatoes, homemade gravy. You may be surprised to learn that there’s never any garlic added to the dishes, as garlic is one of few foods Her Majesty doesn’t eat.

“As well as Christmas pudding with brandy sauce, the royals enjoy a festive afternoon tea later on in the day. The Queen has a sweet tooth and like many of us adores chocolate. Chocolate always features in the afternoon tea. The cakes include a chocolate Yule log, a Christmas cake made by the chefs in the kitchen and a selection of chocolatey pastries.”

As if that wasn’t enough delicious food, the royals enjoy a ‘buffet dinner of 15-20 different items – including a variety of roasted meats, seafood, cooked vegetable and gingerbread cookies – with the chefs at the table carving the meats.

“Right before the Christmas buffet, the senior chef on duty goes into the dining room and carves the rib roast or turkey or ham and once he’s done, Her Majesty presents the chef with a glass of whiskey and they toast,” Darren explains.

“That’s the only time the chef goes into the dining room and has a glass of whiskey with the royal family. It’s one of the chef’s favourite traditions.”

What time does the Queen eat Christmas dinner?
After attending the morning church service at St. Mary Magdalene, the Queen and family sit down for lunch at 1pm.

Darren reveals: “They opened their Christmas presents the day before, on Christmas Eve. So after breakfast they’d go to church, come back and go on to lunch.”

While this is the tradition, the coronavirus pandemic shook things up last year. This is the first Christmas without Prince Phillip which will probably mean a very different Christmas for the Queen this year. She will however be surrounded by her close family and the great grandchildren which will bring lots of fun, laughter and love.

What is it like working for the royal family at Christmas?
Darren McGrady joined the royal household in 1982 and worked his way up through the ranks to become senior chef for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip – a job he enjoyed until 1993.

On spending the festive period at the Palace, Darren explains: “We worked alternate Christmases. You would be at Sandringham for two weeks. So, if you wanted to celebrate with your family, you’d have to celebrate with them before or after because usually you’d be up there from 22nd December until after New Year.”

Despite being away from his own family, Darren said the royals more than made up for it. “They (the Royal family) always made it special for you. The staff would have lots to drink and there would be loads of food and chocolate – and you’d have the full turkey roast, so you weren’t really missing out because you were enjoying the celebration too.”



Tedd Walmsley

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