Dinning with the Queen
What would you say if the Queen announced she is coming to have dinner with you? She’s not one to show up unannounced, but even with a decent notice, it would be quiet an ordeal! It doesn’t happen in a lifetime for most of us, but who knows!?
Which Queen, you may ask, as I didn’t mention any name. As far as I know, it is still only one Queen who is called The Queen. Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II of the United Kingdom. When you are searching on Google the word “queen”, it appears on the first page only Her Majesty, even there are still six other queens only reigning in Europe now: Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, The Netherlands, not to mention other countries.
So, what do you say? Because it is not a question of accepting or not. Agree? It is just how to welcome her. You do a quick search again on Google and find topics on do’s and don’ts, manners, words, dressing code and most important because it is about dinner, food.
So, what does the Queen like to eat?
Regarding meeting the Queen, it is important to use the right greetings, addressing to her as Your Majesty and subsequently Ma'am, pronounced like “jam” and not Madam like someone might expect. The ladies do a small curtsy, put one leg behind the other, bend your knees, and bow your head slightly, while the men do a "neck bow", from the head only.
From the amazing book “Becoming”, by Michelle Obama, we find out that the Queen must not be touched. You are allowed to do it only when you are introduced and only to shake her hand if she offers it. Otherwise, it is strictly forbidden. Nobody advised Michelle so she broke the code and put an arm around the Queen during an official visit in 2009. But the Queen didn’t seem to be offended; she just gave back the embrace in a graceful manner.
The position at the table shows importance. The right side of the Queen is the place of honor and Her Majesty speaks first with this guest during the first course. The protocol says that during the second course the Queen speaks to the person sited on her left and afterward comes back to the right sitting person.
Take the Queen's lead. Don't talk unless spoken to, sit until she sits or begin eating until she does.
If you have more guests, advise them to be early. Guests should arrive before a Royal!
Now, to get a glance into Her Majesty culinary preferences.
For breakfast, or at tea time, she likes her tea with a little spot of milk and no sugar. She is above all British. Accompanied of course by a plate of biscuits or some cookies, called “pennies”, tiny sandwiches with raspberry jam cut like a penny. It is said that they remind her of the biscuits she used to eat when she and her sister, Lady Margaret of Windsor, were little girls.
For dinner, she likes to eat fish accompanied by a plate of vegetables, stewed or roasted, preferably spinach or courgette. Former royal chef Darren McGrady divulged: "For a main course she loved game, things like Gaelic steak, fillet steak with a mushroom whiskey sauce, especially if we did it with venison. 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 favorites."
Interesting to note that Queen Elizabeth does not eat shellfish based on an ancient tradition to avoid food poisoning.
For private meals, at her Buckingham Palace, she prefers a mix of three types of pate: smoked salmon, smoked trout, and smoked mackerel, layered on smoked salmon fillets. All served with Melba toast and horseradish crème.
The Balmoral domain is a treasure of wild mushrooms, especially porcini mushrooms. So you may expect the Queen to be acquainted with this type of dish. We recommend you give it a try and prepare this fine specialty.
We also suggest accompanying the main course, with a Dubonnet, the Queen’s preferred wine.
For dessert don’t forget fresh raspberries and more importantly, a delicious chocolate cake. She adores black chocolate. Darren McGrady says that "She is absolutely a chocoholic. Anything we put on the menu that had chocolate on, she would choose, especially chocolate perfection pie."
After all, it is not so fancy or glamorous but the Queen likes everything to be gracefully and fashionably arranged.
Very important to bear in mind one thing, if you want to enjoy all the meals served with this special occasion: when the Queen stops eating her dinner, everyone else must stop eating too. So, you should be a fast eater.
Also, you have to advise the other guests, if any, to not leave the dinner before Her Majesty unless special permission has been granted. Avoid any personal questions, small talks are proof of good manners.
Other basic rules are don’t take selfies with the Queen and don’t turn your back to Her Majesty, which is something of common sense after all.
Now, you have an idea of how to prepare for a dinner with Her Majesty. Best of luck on an occasion of a lifetime!