We’re all familiar with the Queen’s public persona – but how much do we know about what she gets up to behind closed doors?
She’s extremely disciplined and dedicates swathes of her day to keeping up with current affairs. A creature of habit, she knows exactly what she likes when. But there’s also a naughty, indulgent side – she has biscuits before breakfast and feeds her beloved corgis titbits from the table.
Rise and shine, Your Majesty!
The Queen starts her day bright and early, with a pot of freshly brewed Earl Grey tea (milk, no sugar), poured from silver pots into a bone china cup and a few biscuits before her breakfast. She tunes in to BBC Radio 4's Today programme while her maid runs her morning bath. In her dressing room, she puts on her first outfit of the day, before her hairdresser arranges her hair.
Breakfast with the Duke of Edinburgh is served by a tail-coated footman in the Queen’s private first-floor dining room, which overlooks the beautiful Palace garden. The spread includes cereal, yoghurt and maple syrup, but Her Majesty likes to have toast with light marmalade, which she sometimes shares with the corgis. She scans the morning papers – her favourites are the Daily Telegraph and the Racing Post.
If for any reason the Queen still isn’t fully awake and alert, she will be after a bout of bagpipes, played by Her Majesty’s kilted piper - a traditional start to every weekday when she is at Buckingham Palace, Windsor, Holyroodhouse Palace or Balmoral Castle.
Time for work
While many women her age are happily enjoying retirement, the Queen has plenty to keep her busy at her Chippendale desk in her sitting room. She receives up to 300 letters from the public each day, some of which she reads herself.
Official Cabinet documents, including letters and state papers, are passed on to the Queen by her Private Secretaries, in the famous red leather despatch boxes. She is required to read through all of them and, if necessary, sign and approve some of them. Two inkwells are at the desk, with black ink to sign official documents and green for personal letters.
Mornings can also be a time for private audiences, such as meeting new English bishops or judges, which can last 10 to 20 minutes.
Once she’s caught up on the paperwork, she takes her beloved dogs for their morning walk.
If it’s an investiture day, she then heads to the Palace ballroom to bestow the honours on lucky recipients in the hour-long ceremony.
Lady at lunch
Lunch at Buckingham Palace is usually eaten alone, but a lady-in-waiting will sometimes be invited to join the Queen. Every two months, Her Majesty and Prince Philip have a dozen guests over for an informal lunch.
At other times, the Queen will enjoy lunch with her big family, all the children and grandchildren together. There’s even time for a quick tipple: it’s said she likes a gin and Dubonnet just before lunch!
High tea is served in the Queen’s Palace suite, with sandwiches, scones and her favourite Dundee cake. Any dropped crumbs are gobbled up by her corgis. After tea, Her Majesty spends another hour at her desk.
Every evening, she studies a report of the day's parliamentary proceedings and on Wednesdays the Queen has an audience with the Prime Minister.
If she has no guests or public engagements to attend, the Queen and Prince Philip change into comfy clothes, before a relaxed meal of lamb, roast beef, mutton, grouse or salmon. There might be a Martini aperitif, but Her Majesty rarely drinks wine with dinner.
The Queen is said to be a fan of Coronation Street and also does jigsaw puzzles and crosswords or plays Scrabble to relax. But ever conscientious, she does not switch off from work completely, and spends some of the evening with her official despatch boxes again.
It’s time for the Queen to rest her royal head, but not before writing a page of her diary, which she has kept since the beginning of her reign.
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