Though we’re under no illusions that Queen Elizabeth II’s life is even remotely like our own, it’s always fascinating to hear stories of her reaction to the average person’s quotidian experiences.
The latest anecdote comes courtesy of People magazine, who profiled the royal family in their cover story this week. In the piece, they shared some insider knowledge of the personal lives of the clan from Sally Bedell Smith, author of 2012’s Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch. Bedell Smith related this priceless nugget, from around 2015, when the Queen visited her grandson Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, after they completed the renovation of their country home, Anmer Hall: “They invited the Queen over for lunch,” Bedell Smith recalled. “They have one of those big kitchens with eating areas, and she said, “I can’t understand why everybody spends their time in the kitchen.’”
Of course, an open-plan kitchen is entirely relatable for a young family like the Cambridges, who have three small children and probably spend an undue amount of time getting everyone fed breakfast at the start of the day, or prepping after-school snacks. But for the Queen, who we’ll just have to assume never had to cut the crusts off her own children’s sandwiches, this must seem terribly informal.
That being said, it’s unlikely that Anmer Hall would feel down-to-earth to most of us: the Norfolk country home is actually a 10-bedroom Georgian mansion that the Queen gifted to her grandson shortly after his marriage. It’s also immensely private, as it’s located on the grounds of Her Majesty’s Sandringham Estate. And even before they moved in, reports speculated that the couple spent around 1.5 million British pounds to bring it up to 21st-century standards, embarking on projects ranging from constructing a new roof to adding a glass-topped garden room, and a gut renovation of the interiors (for which they hired architect-decorator Ben Pentreath). They also gussied up the considerable grounds by adding an outdoor swimming pool and a tennis court. According to British Vogue, the interiors are a mix of contemporary design with many period antiques sprinkled throughout, with a mostly neutral color palette—think cream walls mixed with wicker and bamboo furniture.
The manse is also reportedly where the Cambridges hunkered down during the worst of the Covid-19 quarantine, perhaps made more fun by Kate’s revelation that the family keeps a flock of chickens in the garden that also provide fresh eggs. Though we doubt Queen Elizabeth II went to fetch her own breakfast while staying with her grandson, perhaps she enjoyed an omelet while sitting—gasp—in the kitchen.