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February 05, 2020

Former Royal Chef Once Revealed How the Queen's 12 Corgis Made Him Run Away

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Former Royal chef, Darren McGrady, who worked at Buckingham Palace for 15 years, once revealed a funny story about almost meeting Queen Elizabeth II and how her loyal corgis ruined the experience.

Darren McGrady was camping in a mall on the eve of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding in 1982 when he thought it would be “amazing” to work in the royal kitchens. A few weeks later, he applied for the job and, after a rigorous interview, secured the position.

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He would spend 15 years working for the royal family, 11 at Buckingham Palace, cooking for the Queen of England and the Duke of Edinburg; and four at Kensington Palace, where he became the private chef to the late Princess Diana and her sons, Princes William, and Harry.

After many years surrounded by the royals, McGrady has many stories to share about his time in the royal kitchens.

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THE CORGI STORY

One time, while cooking one of the Queen’s favorite dishes for the cooking channel Delish, he recalled how he came close to meeting the Queen while walking along the side of the river of Balmoral Castle on his afternoon off.

“I looked down the road, and I saw this lady walking towards me. And she got a load of dogs with her. And I looked, and I looked a bit closer and thought ‘No, that can’t be the Queen,’” he recalled.

Her majesty had a headscarf on and a barber coat, and once she was closer, McGrady realized it was indeed Queen Elizabeth and started practicing what he was taught to say or do in her presence.

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However, as she got closer, her dogs saw the chef. Twelve corgis. And they all started barking at him before charging in his direction.

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So, before being attacked by the dogs, he turned around and ran in the opposite direction.

“And the Queen started laughing,” he remembered. “Can you believe it? The Queen was laughing at me, running away from the Corgis. So, I never really did get to meet the Queen.”

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MORE STORIES FROM THE CHEF

McGrady also revealed that the Queen enjoys eating her meals made with fresh ingredients that are grown and hunted in the castle, but she’s not an adventurous eater.

“The Queen never was a foodie. She always ate to live rather than live to eat,” he told Hello! Magazine. And continued:

“Prince Philip was the foodie. He'd want to try any new dishes all the time and got excited about new ingredients, whereas the Queen, if we had a new recipe, she'd have to look at the whole recipe before saying, 'Yes, ok, let's try it.' But for the most part, she stuck to the same dishes week in week out."

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The Queen also chooses the menu at the palace every day. She is sent a list with three or more options, and she picks the one she’d like to have, putting a line through the ones she doesn’t want for emphasis.

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The chef also says the Queen is very disciplined when it comes to her food.

For example, he recalled how although chocolate is one of her favorites, she would only have a moderate slice of chocolate cake and send the rest back to the kitchen. If she wanted more, she would wait until the next day.

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THE ROYAL CORGIS

Everyone at the royal family gets to eat from a special menu, including the Queen’s corgis.

Throughout her life, Queen Elizabeth has had around 30 corgis. She got the first one, Susan, when she was 18, and the adorable dog accompanied her in her honeymoon with Prince Phillip.

So, with the special treatment, the Queen gives her adored pets, it’s not that rare to learn they also had an exclusive menu. 

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McGrady told Hello! magazine:

“When I worked at the palace, we actually had a royal menu for the dogs. It would be chosen and sent to us in the kitchen every month by Mrs. Fennick, who took care of all the dogs at Sandringham.”

The menu would vary between beef, chicken, lamb, and rabbit, and sometimes they added some rice or cabbage to the meals as well.

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Sadly, the Queen’s last corgi, Whisper, passed away in 2018, and she decided not to keep adding dogs to her family because she will not outlive them. She’s left with two dogs, Candy and Vulcan, who are dachshund-corgi mixes.

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