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Princess Margaret's 'simple tastes' revealed

Princess Margaret
Image caption Princess Margaret was a glamorous figure but had "catholic tastes" in food and enjoyed whisky and gin but not champagne

Princess Margaret preferred "simple meals" to oysters and caviar and would rather drink gin and tonic than champagne, newly released papers show.

Details of her dining preferences are revealed in letters from the Queen Mother's private secretary to the governor of Mauritius.

They were sent in preparation for the princess's visit to the island in 1956.

They reveal the Queen's late sister did not like tennis or golf, but would watch cricket or football.

Intimate details of royal dining habits are normally kept secret, but the letters were among a selection of colonial-era documents released by the National Archives.

Sir Robert Scott, the governor of Mauritius at the time of the princess's visit, was also informed that she did "not like motorcycle escorts", and would accept gifts of books only from authors who were "of reputable character".

Princess Margaret, who died in 2002 aged 71, was keen on riding and was "happy to watch football or cricket for a reasonable length of time".

Sir Martin Gilliat, the Queen Mother's private secretary, wrote: "As far as food is concerned, Her Royal Highness has very catholic tastes but is not fond of either caviar or oysters."

He added that she enjoyed drinking gin and tonic and whisky and soda, and would rather have a glass of red or white wine than champagne.

"Princess Margaret prefers meals to be as simple as possible and not to last too long. Three or four courses (including cheese or fruit) for lunch, and five for dinner are quite sufficient," he added.

According to the file, it appears the careful planning paid off: a message from Sir Martin to Sir Robert stated: "I am writing at the bidding of Princess Margaret to convey to you Her Royal Highness' very real pleasure at the wonderful arrangements which were made for her visit to Mauritius."

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