Former royal butler claims the Queen “only eats tiny Christmas dinners and loves washing up in marigolds”

Paul Burrell reveals two of the Queen’s surprising habits

Queen Elizabeth II leaves after the Royal Family's traditional Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham
(Image credit: BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Former royal butler Paul Burrell has opened up about what Christmas with the Queen actually looks like. 

And whilst we may imagine the royal festivities being glamorous and traditional affairs with plenty of food and drink to enjoy, it seems the 94-year-old monarch has some more down-to-earth Christmas preferences. 

Burrell has often been turned to in recent years for insights on the Royal Family. Having served as Her Majesty’s personal footman, he went on to serve as butler to Princess Diana for 10 years. With a huge amount of experience at his disposal, it’s no wonder that he seems to know a great deal about royal life. 

Now he has revealed some surprising things about what habits the Queen has at Christmas…

British former butler Paul Burrell poses for the media outside London's High Court

(Image credit: SHAUN CURRY/AFP via Getty Images)

What has former royal butler Paul Burrell revealed about the Queen’s Christmas habits?

As reported in The Mirror, Paul Burrell has recently opened up to Vicky Pattison on her The Secret podcast. Speaking of the Queen’s Christmas habits, he revealed that Her Majesty “only ever eats very little portions” and described her as having “great self-discipline”. 

He explained: “She doesn’t eat a Christmas dinner like we do where it is piled high and you can’t see each other across the table”. 

Whilst this may be unusual compared to a lot of British households who embrace the festivities and enjoy plenty of seasonal food and drink, Burrell revealed that the Queen also enjoys another more unusual activity.

What other surprising habit does Burrell claim the Queen has? 

Though many of us would do anything to get out of washing the dishes at any time of year, it seems the monarch might actually enjoy giving things a good clean. 

Mr Burrell admitted: “She likes to wash up”. This seems to be the case especially when she’s at her Scottish estate of Balmoral. 

As Burrell explained: “She puts on the marigolds and when she goes out to the log cabin at Balmoral she is stood there with her marigolds on and she washes up and the lady in waiting dries."

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, walk together during a garden party at Balmoral Castle

(Image credit: DAVID CHESKIN/AFP/GettyImages)

This is perhaps less of a surprise given that royal author Juliet Rieden has previously told the Express how Balmoral is where the Queen “loves to be” and where she enjoys a more “normal” existence.

Juliet reportedly said: “She always said this is where she feels most herself and feels most free." The Royal Family’s annual mass gathering at the Queen’s Norfolk home, Sandringham, is certainly facing some significant changes this year due to covid-19. 

Many aspects of the royals’ traditional Christmas won’t happen this year. From 23 December to 27 December Brits are allowed to mix with up to two households aside from their own. 

With four children, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, the Queen faced the difficult task of deciding who she and Prince Philip would include in their bubble. There were rumours circulating that the Queen will choose her youngest son Prince Edward and his family to be in her bubble. 

It has now been announced that the Queen and Prince Philip will remain at Windsor Castle for a quiet Christmas. 

This marks the first time in 33 years that the Queen will not spend Christmas at Sandringham in Norfolk. It has not yet been announced whether any members of the Royal Family might join the Queen at any point during the festive period. 


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Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use , Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!