A right royal Christmas dinner

You’re the king or queen of your household and so you shall dine like one!

When you sit down to Christmas dinner this year, there’ll be traditions the whole family follows. For the Queen and royal family, it seems the same applies. That’s according to chef, Darren Grady.

In 1982 he joined the royal household and, after rising to the ranks of senior chef, stayed with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip until 1993. We spoke to Darren to find out what he served on Christmas Day during his time with them.

What it was like cooking for the royals at Christmas

“We worked alternate Christmases,” says Darren. “You would be at Sandringham for two weeks. So, if you wanted to celebrate with your family, you’d have to celebrate with them before or after because usually you’d be up there from December 22 until after New Year.

“But they (the royal family) always made it special for you... The staff would have lots to drink and there would be loads of food and chocolate – and you’d have the full turkey roast, so you weren’t really missing out because you were enjoying the celebration too.”

What was on the menu for breakfast?

Darren McGrady

“They would start with a full cooked breakfast on Christmas Day. They opened their Christmas presents the day before, on Christmas Eve. So after breakfast they’d go to church, come back and go on to lunch.”

And dinner?

That was always roast turkey and all the trimmings.

“Usually it was homemade sage and onion stuffing, Brussels sprouts with bacon and chestnuts, sometimes parsnips and carrots – it varied year to year – mashed potatoes and roast potatoes, homemade gravy, then Christmas pudding with brandy sauce.

But there was no coin in the pudding…

“No, we never did that! Ever since the Queen Mother choked on a fish bone that time… we were too nervous to do that.”

Anything to nibble on in the afternoon?

“Later in the day there would be afternoon tea, and that always included a chocolate Yule log, a Christmas cake made by the chefs in the kitchen and a selection of chocolatey pastries.”

So there you have it, a full-cooked breakfast, turkey with all the trimmings and then afternoon tea. We think that sounds doable!