The Queen's dining table rule will surprise you

Everyone eating with the monarch must follow this protocol

Sophie Hamilton

Whether it's a formal state banquet or an annual gathering like Christmas lunch at Sandringham, dinner within the royal family is often a grand affair. We'd expect a strict set of table rules from the prestigious family, such as wearing formal attire and not taking your seat before Her Majesty the Queen. However, one requirement has really surprised us. According to royal etiquette, those who dine with the monarch – including members of the royal family – must follow her every move during the meal. So if the Queen stops eating her dinner, everyone else must stop eating too, whether they are full or not. That's bound to make one a fast eater!


According to former royal butler Paul Burrell, there was one notable occasion when this rule was accidentally broken. "I was once on the Royal Yacht Britannia in the South Pacific and the Queen was hosting a dinner for a local prince," he told The Guardian. "Dessert was served. The prince forgot to watch what the Queen did - instead, he popped the grapes into his finger bowl, then some cherries, then when the cream and sugar came out, he poured them in too, making a kind of fruit soup. I was standing behind the Queen looking horrified. He was about to raise the bowl to his lips to drink it when he looked at the Queen and realised he had made a terrible mistake." Luckily, Paul revealed the Queen had the perfect reaction. "Not wanting to make him feel awkward, she picked up her finger bowl and took a sip."

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Former royal chef Darren McGrady - who worked at Buckingham Palace for 11 years - previously told HELLO! that the Queen is "not a foodie", often preferring to stick to the same dishes. He also revealed that each week, a red leather-bound book of menus, written in French, would be sent to the Queen for her to check over. "She would put a line through the ones she didn't want," Darren said. "Sometimes she'd put a line through it all and put something different, like if she was having dinner with Prince Andrew, his favourite was crème brulee with Sandringham oranges."


Darren added that the monarch also has a soft spot for chocolate. "She is absolutely a chocoholic," said Darren. "Anything we put on the menu that had chocolate on, she would choose, especially chocolate perfection pie."

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Revealing more of Her Majesty's food preferences, he divulged: "For a main course she loved game, things like Gaelic steak, fillet steak with a mushroom whisky sauce, especially if we did it with venison. For a first course she loved the Gleneagles pâté, which is smoked salmon, trout and mackerel. She loved using ingredients off the estate and so if we had salmon from Balmoral from the River Dee, she'd have that, it was one of her favourites."


Darren also cleared up the confusion on the Queen's drinking habits, revealing that she did not drink four cocktails a day as was once reported. "She'd be pickled if she drank that much," he told CNN. "All I said was she likes a gin and Dubonnet. That's her favourite drink." The chef clarified that Her Majesty doesn't drink every day, explaining: "She doesn't wake up in the morning and have a large gin and tonic."

He added that when the Queen does have a drink with dinner it is typically a glass of her favourite German sweet wine. "Just in the evening. She certainly doesn't drink four glasses a day."