King Charles’ 7 most bizarre food facts, revealed by Queen Elizabeth’s former chef: Darren McGrady shared Charles’ love for wild mushrooms, Italian food … and cheesy baked eggs

King Charles, pictured with Camilla, Queen Consort at the Whitstable Oyster Festival in July 2013, in Whitstable, England, appears to enjoy his oysters, but what else do you know about his eating habits? Photo: Indigo/Getty Images

Royal watchers will know that the British royal family have plenty of protocols to follow when they sit down to enjoy a meal … but King Charles has some interesting personal food preferences that have nothing to do with rules.

Former royal chef Darren McGrady shared anecdotes about Charles’ eating habits in his 2007 cookbook, Eating Royally. McGrady worked for Queen Elizabeth for 11 years before joining Princess Diana’s staff.

Here’s what you need to know …

1. King Charles prefers healthier, organic birthday cakes

King Charles attends the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, on November 13, in London, UK. Photo: PA Wire/DPA
On November 14, King Charles celebrated his first birthday as the British monarch. He turned 74 years old on Monday, marking the first time he’s celebrated his birthday on the British throne. The official Buckingham Palace Instagram account marked the occasion by sharing a new photo of Charles and a video of the Household Cavalry playing “Happy Birthday” for him.
While his mother Queen Elizabeth adored chocolate cakes, Charles prefers healthier, organic options, according to former royal chef McGrady. McGrady shared anecdotes about Charles’ eating habits in his 2007 cookbook, Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen.
Chef Darren McGrady attends BritWeek’s 10th Anniversary VIP Reception and Gala at Fairmont Hotel, in May 2016, in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Getty Images via AFP

McGrady worked as a chef for the queen at Buckingham Palace for 11 years before working for Princess Diana at Kensington Palace for four years. He joined the queen’s staff in 1982, then transferred to Diana’s staff in 1993. McGrady remained at Kensington Palace until Diana died in August 1997.

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2. Charles had his personal chefs collect wild mushrooms at Balmoral Castle

Prince Charles stands with his sons Princes William and Harry on the banks of the river Muick near Ballater, in 1997. Photo: Reuters
McGrady has said that when he worked for the late Queen Elizabeth, Charles favoured organic options and even brought his personal chefs to collect wild mushrooms at Balmoral Castle. According to McGrady’s book, Charles greatly enjoyed the mushrooms that grow at the Scotland castle.

“I quickly understood what Prince Charles had known for a long time: Balmoral is an absolute treasure trove of wild mushrooms,” McGrady wrote, adding that a rivalry sparked between the queen’s chefs and Charles’ chefs because of them. (At the time McGrady’s book was published, Charles was still a prince, of course.)

“Unfortunately, for Prince Charles, the queen’s head chef, Peter Page, also knew that cèpes grew abundantly on the property, and he was adamant that the prince’s chefs were not going to take them,” McGrady continued. “He organised a mushroom raid across the estate before Prince Charles’ entourage arrived at Balmoral.”

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McGrady added: “The prince’s chefs were more than a little irritated. ‘Oh well, chalk one up for the queen’s men,’ I thought.”

3. Charles also caught salmon – and had the royal chefs cook his haul for meals

Britain’s Charles, then Prince of Wales during a fly fishing competition during a Game Fair in the grounds of Bowood House, situated between Calne and Chippenham in Wiltshire, England, in 1979. Photo: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

According to McGrady’s cookbook, Charles caught salmon at Balmoral Castle – often with the Queen Mother – and had the royal chefs cook his haul for meals. McGrady also noted that Charles loved fishing so much that he taught Prince William and Prince Harry how to fish when they were children.

“Prince Charles is an avid fisherman and would spend hours in the Dee, often alongside the Queen Mother with water to the tops of their waders,” McGrady wrote, referring to the River Dee. “He would heft enormous salmon into the royal kitchen to be weighed, tagged and catalogued.”

McGrady added that kitchen staff members weren’t allowed to touch the salmon until instructions were given. “The salmon was so fresh its eyes seemed to follow you around the room,” he wrote. “None of the chefs were allowed to touch it until instructions were sent from upstairs. Usually it would be grilled, poached or broiled with a garnish and served on silver in the dining room.”

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4. Charles once invited famed Italian chef Antonio Carluccio to scavenge for wild mushrooms

King Charles is a fan of foraged wild mushrooms. Photo: Unsplash

McGrady recalled that Charles’ love for Balmoral Castle’s wild mushrooms was so potent that he even once enlisted help from the famous chef Antonio Carluccio.

“Prince Charles is a very health-conscious eater and enjoys whole grains, organic vegetables, and simply prepared fish and meats,” McGrady wrote in his cookbook. “In fact, he once brought Antonio Carluccio, a well-known Italian cook in London, to Balmoral to search for and bottle wild mushrooms.”

5. He loves Italian food

Spaghetti and meatballs – the kind of dish that King Charles apparently loves. Photo: SCMP

Charles loves Italian food so much that he, Princess Diana and their kids often ate Italian food for dinner, according to McGrady. The former royal chef shared additional anecdotes about Charles during a March 2020 interview with Delish, referring to Charles as a “foodie” who loves Italian food.

“One of the things I noticed about the [then] Prince of Wales is his love of Italian food,” McGrady told the outlet. “Whether it was wild mushroom risotto or polenta dishes – sort of healthy eating. That’s what Italian food is: simple, elegant food.”

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Charles’ love for Italian food often translated to family meals, McGrady said.

“When Prince Charles, Princess Diana, William and Harry were all eating together, often, Italian food was on the menu,” he told Delish. “Princess Diana loved it too because it was simple, clean,” and included “lots of nice salads”.

McGrady added that William and Harry were big fans of Italian pizza.

6. Charles usually starts the day with fruits and juice for breakfast

King Charles might feast on cereal with plenty of fruit for breakfast. Photo: Unsplash

McGrady told Delish that “when it comes to eating, no two days are the same for the Prince of Wales”.

“He normally starts the day with some fruit for breakfast, often some plums from the garden that have been lightly poached. A little juice and some muesli to go with it,” McGrady said.

McGrady said at the time that Charles also eats hard-boiled eggs and toast during his afternoon tea.

7. One of Charles’ favourite recipes is cheesy baked eggs

Camilla, then Duchess Of Cornwall and then Prince Charles, Prince of Wales taste cheese when they visit Borough Market in 2005, in London, England. Photo: Anwar Hussein Collection/Getty Images

Although McGrady didn’t share this titbit, it deserves a place on the list.

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The official Clarence House Instagram account shared the recipe for Charles’ beloved cheesy baked eggs in May 2020 to mark the British Cheese Weekender.

“His royal highness has been patron of the Speciality Cheesemakers Association since 1993,” the caption read. The cheesy baked egg recipe includes spinach, cherry or sun-dried tomatoes, basil leaves, soft cheese and an egg.

This article originally appeared on Insider
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King Charles
  • Darren McGrady, a former chef at Buckingham Palace before working for Princess Diana, wrote the cookbook Eating Royally where he shared anecdotes about King Charles’ eating habits
  • Charles, Diana and Princess Harry and William often ate Italian food for dinner, and the king once had a famous London chef forage for mushrooms at Balmoral Castle