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Things we’ve learned from Queen Elizabeth II

April 21st 2016 / Anna Hunter


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On the day that she turns 90, we present an homage to Her Maj…

Britain’s longest reigning monarch is entering her ninth decade, and is as active as ever, both in terms of royal duties and lifestyle. Quite how the Queen pulls off a full working week (the only day that she doesn’t attend to her red box of government papers is Christmas Day), a packed schedule of official engagements (341 last year) and a position as Head of the Commonwealth (53 independent states) is pretty boggling, but then she’s never been one to skirt royal duties or bunk off to play bowls instead. Here are just a handful of learnings we’ve gleaned from the Queen over the years (64 on the throne and counting)...

One is never too old to ride a steed

Her Majesty trots down to the stables regularly, reportedly riding her horses once or twice week according to a statement made to the BBC by her former press secretary Dickie Arbiter. Years of riding are likely to have boosted Queen Elizabeth’s core strength, not to mention general wellbeing. We’re saddling up as we speak.

Planning in physical activity is non-negotiable

Perhaps the Queen has been referring to our 100 years of fitness series; according to reports she remains a keen walker, taking her corgis out for rambling walks come rain or shine in her standard athleisure attire; read, headscarf and rain mac. Combine her daily walks with horseriding and working the room at official functions and her fitness levels are likely unusually high for her age.

One must never fade into the background

Older age does not equal beige. The Queen’s favourite colour is apparently yellow, as worn to the wedding of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, tying in with her flower of preference, the carnation. Standing out in the crowd is the aim of the game (“I have to be seen to be believed”), and we don’t see her settling for wishy washy biscuit hues anytime soon.

Hard graft will get you far

Aside from her royal duties, Her Majesty is also a trained mechanic, dating back to her time serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service. If her Bentley malfunctions, she could likely deal with it hands on if needs be. Kudos.

A healthy diet pays dividends

Despite the almost daily formal dinners, garden parties and banquets, Queen Elizabeth keeps her diet balanced, particularly avoiding overindulging when’s she’s not entertaining according to Arbiter:

“She’s very disciplined. No starch is the rule. No potatoes, rice or pasta for dinner.”

Arbiter goes on to underline that her down to earth eating habits were established in childhood:

“During the war they lived on rations like everyone else. Her Majesty still prefers to eat simple food afterwards, like meat with veg, not processed foods.”

We feel that Amelia Freer would approve.

Extravagance is overrated

She may travel in a gilded carriage from time to time, but in her personal life, Queen Elizabeth keeps it real. From her wedding dress bought with ration cards to her high estimation of Kate Middleton’s homemade chutney, her royal highness values craftsmanship over ostentation.


Booze if you like, but put up some boundaries

Her Majesty is said to favour a gin and Dubonnet, but Arbiter insists that she never goes overboard:

“If she’s having a drink she’ll usually just have one. Two is very rare.”

Travel broadens the mind

The Queen is the most well-travelled, adventurous monarch ever, having lived abroad and embarked on visits to most of the Commonwealth countries, in addition to other state visits around the world. Catch her if you can.

Grooming is de rigueur

The Queen is known to favour nude nails, blue-red lipstick and never scrimps on hand cream. Her hair is kept immaculate thanks to a trusty Kent Brush, she bathes with Molton Brown and her bathroom is stocked with soaps by Yardley. UK made toiletries and cosmetics are generally favoured, and as such classic English flowers likely make up her fragrance of choice. Come evening, she probably lights a Charles Farris candle.

Candles are one thing, smoking is quite another…

The Queen has never smoked, and Prince Philip is rumoured to have given up smoking on their wedding day. Fresh air is high priority for Her Majesty.


Escaping from a social situation needn’t be awkward

At least not when you have a well established ‘handbag code’ as Queen Elizabeth is reported to; a bag on the table indicates to her staff that she’s ready to leave, while switching her handbag from one arm to other suggests that she’s ready to move on from a particular conversation or interaction. Handbags at dawn.

A sense of humour is essential

It must be high on the ruling criteria if you’re to ace long, occasionally unpredictable royal events. The royal wit is dry and ever-present, as evidenced in a recent ITV documentary celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Love can endure

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip have been married for 69 years. From the outside, it appears to be a happy union too. Long live love.

One can never own too many hats

Queen Elizabeth is said to have worn more than 5000 hats since her coronation in 1953. In celebration of her sartorial prowess and impeccable headwear, The Berkeley will be hosting a ‘Pret a Portea’ afternoon tea to mark both Her Majesty’s 90th birthday and showcase the royal family’s most famous accessories. From the Queen’s coronation crown recreated in vanilla biscuit with edible jewels to a Launer London lemon drizzle handbag cake (the Queen’s brand of choice), many of the milliners and designers to the royal household will be represented in biscuit, fancy, cake and choux bun form. Tuck into some fashion inspired delicacies with a glass of champagne or learn how to bake up a fascinator for yourself at a Royal Masterclass. Bake Off it ain’t.

Book Pret-a-Portea here until 30th June

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