With Harry and Meghan’s child on the way, it’s a wonderful time to highlight Royal Recipes: Childhood, a documentary on True Royally that looks at the food that meant the most to the Royals in their childhood.
Ingrid Seward, author and editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, reveals in the documentary that ‘the royal children eat at precisely 4.30 for tea – which is half an hour before the grown-ups – and then they have supper at 7. They have to be bathed and washed and in their bedclothes in time for that.”
While the dinner time routine may have been strict, the Royal children were allowed free reign over what food they requested, which led to some peculiar and unexpected favourite childhood meals:
Queen Elizabeth II: Kipper Stata
When growing up in Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II – or Princess Elizabeth, as she was then known – caught the whiff of an unusual aroma from the kitchen as she was playing in the garden. The smell, as it turns out, was kippers and from then on the future monarch frequently demanded kipper stata – a dish of kippers on toast – for her meals growing up.
Despite kippers falling out of favour with the general public sometime in the 70s, the very distinct smell of kippers lingered around the palace, where it has remained a staple meal for the children of the Royal household, and a firm favourite of the Queen’s.
Princess Anne: Fish and Chips
Not as taken with kippers as her mother, Princess Anne had another favourite fish meal which may have surprised many at the time: Princess Anne loved eating the unpretentiously classic fish and chips, particularly when they were wrapped in old newspaper to add a touch of nostalgia.
It seems as if it would be impossible to get more British than a member of the Royal Family tucking into some fish and chips at Buckingham Palace, but this was frowned upon by others in the family. Very much considered the food of the commoner, Princess Anne was expected to indulge in fish and chips only occasionally, as a special treat.
Prince William: Cottage Pie
As a child, Prince William was known in the Royal kitchen as the young prince with a predilection for cottage pie. Paul Ainsworth reveals how chefs of the Royal household took pains to elevate the somewhat basic dish into something more befitting a future king.
Although a cottage pie is usually a rather standard affair, Ainsworth explained how the Royal chefs used a cheese called Berkswell – similar to parmesan – to coat the cottage pie and add a bit of extra flavour.
Prince William and Prince Harry: Banana Flan
Former Royal chef Darren McGrady provides some insight into cooking at Buckingham Palace, and in particular catering for a young Prince Harry and Prince William. He says there was always a telltale sign when the young Princes were in: “We always knew when Prince William and Prince Harry were home because Princess Diana would write Banana Flan on the menu!”
This sweet dessert satisfied the children but led to some problems in the kitchen when McGrady tried to make it for the Royals. “When I was about to start slicing the bananas, Princess Diana would come into the kitchen and chat and take one of the bananas and start eating it. Then the boys would come in and take a banana each and start eating it too and then I’d only have one banana left just hoping I had more in the pantry!”