Queen kept cereal in Tupperware, security breach showed

·2-min read
An armed police officer in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Archive)
An armed police officer in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Archive)

It was one of the most telling insights into royal life – but the Queen was not amused.

When an undercover reporter breached security to get a job as a footman at Buckingham Palace, aides were aghast that it happened right under their noses.

Daily Mirror journalist Ryan Parry, who worked at the Queen’s official residence in the run-up to US president George Bush’s state visit in 2003, revealed that in one respect, at least, the Queen lived like many of her subjects.

She used plastic containers for her breakfast cereals.

A woman of great wealth, surrounded by priceless works of art and antique furniture, arranged in gilded rooms lit by crystal chandeliers, she chose the homely touch of Tupperware to hold her cornflakes, porridge oats and Weetabix.

The Queen drank Earl Grey tea and ate cereal, accompanied by plain yogurt, fruit and toast – with a light helping of marmalade.

She liked to feed some of the toast to her corgis under the table.

But there the apparent informality ended.

Setting the royal breakfast table, for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, was a precision job.

Servants were given the master plan on how to lay the table, detailing everything down to exactly where to place the maple syrup, honey, marmalade and the silver spoons.

On the breakfast table was a small, battery-operated radio for the Duke of Edinburgh.

A space was left for national newspapers, with the Racing Post on the top of the pile.

Footmen were also given plans of the tea trays, showing where cups and saucers, teapots and milk jugs were to be placed.

At weekends, the Queen was looked after by a reduced staff, consisting of two footmen, two kitchen porters, two chefs, two silver pantry under-butlers, a page and a coffee-room maid, the latter apparently fulfilling a limited function.

To deliver coffee to the Queen in her dining room, the maid was tasked to pour the coffee from a hot-plate pot into a silver jug and hand it to a footman.

The footman then carried it 20 yards to the page’s vestibule.

A page then carried it another eight yards to the Queen in her dining room.

The Royal Household hit back at the revelation of what went on behind closed Palace doors.

In a rare move, the Queen went to the High Court to stop the newspaper and journalist from publishing further details.

Her lawyers argued it was “a flagrant breach” of a contractual obligation to maintain confidentiality.

Much of it – such as details of the Queen’s breakfast table lay-out and the habits, dislikes and moods of the royals – was “personal and intrusive”, they insisted.

The Queen won a permanent injunction preventing publication of further details.

Royal security faced a widespread review in the wake of the scandal, with courtiers determined not to let such a security lapse happen at the Queen’s home again.