The Surprisingly Informal Way Queen Elizabeth Ate Dinner At Balmoral Castle

The late Queen Elizabeth II carried the mantle of the British monarchy for seven decades beginning with her coronation in 1952. During that time, USA Today notes that the Queen hosted over 150 state dinners with leaders from around the globe. Hosted at the grand Buckingham Palace, these were intensely formal affairs steeped in ceremony. Elle Magazine reports that the Queen's dinner guests were required to don "full evening dress." Think full-length ball gowns, tailcoats, and ceremonial sashes.

As you might expect, the menus at these formal dinners represented the peak of formal dining. Hello Magazine reports that meal preparations began days in advance when the royal chef would present Queen Elizabeth with a red leather-bound book of recipes for her to choose from (as long as they had no garlic). To really take the formal presentation to the next level, this book and the subsequent menus prepared from it were entirely written in French. Yes, the Queen's sense of pomp and circumstance took precedence over her native language. To the everyday people of the world who never happened to inherit a palace, such a level of formality likely sounds like more of a chore than a pleasure, and it seems that the Queen might have been on the same page deep down because, when her vacation days came around, she dined in the least formal way imaginable.

A royal TV dinner

Being a queen at the dinner table sounds glamorous, but also stressful. After all, royal tradition states that the queen always gets the last bite, and there's a lot of pressure in dictating the pace of a meal. Small wonder that, when Elizabeth made her annual trip to Balmoral Castle, she liked to wind down. Balmoral, as Town & Country explains, is a 50,000-acre estate in Scotland that the Queen would retreat to at the end of each summer. The customary image of royalty seemed to disappear on those grounds, as Elizabeth reportedly loved to zip around the property in her Range Rover and even did the dishes herself. But nothing is more relatable than the way she took her private dinners.

Hello Magazine reports that, when staying at Balmoral, Queen Elizabeth preferred to eat dinner on a tray in front of the television. She was a fan of classic British series, including "The Bill," a long-running police procedural, per IMDb, and "Last of the Summer Wine," a sitcom about a trio of elderly men who attempt to relive the days of their youth, according to IMDb. She also enjoyed a pair of British series, "Midsomer Murders" and "Doctor Who," that found equal popularity across the pond. While we average folk can't honor the Queen's memory with full dinner dress, we can all plop down on our couches and watch the Doctor tumble through time and space — which, let's be honest, is more fun anyway.