Carolyn Robb knows a thing or two about cooking for royalty. She began her career as a chef for the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester (cousins to Queen Elizabeth) before being offered the job to cook for Charles and Diana in 1989.
She stuck with the family for 11 years, and she has quite a few stories to tell. Here are some of the highlights from her experience as the official Royal Chef to the Prince and Princess of Wales.
Prince Harry Houdini
According to Robb, Prince Harry used to hide from his nannies by shutting himself in the kitchen cupboards. In an interview for “The Royal Story” video series, the chef fondly recalled how “[y]ou’d hear little footsteps tearing along the passageway above the kitchen and then he’d come flying down the stairs into the kitchen.”
“Fortunately we had some quite low cupboards where the breakfast cereals were kept that opened on both sides, so we could quickly take out the boxes of cornflakes and hide Harry. By the time the nanny arrived, he was no where to be seen – except usually his giggling would give him away.”
‘Tricky Time’ Following the Divorce
Kids always have it hard when their parents split up, but for young William and Harry, it was especially difficult. Their parents’ relationship woes were front-page news, after all. Robb remained with Charles and the boys at their Kensington Palace apartment during what she calls a “tricky time.”
“I wanted to do whatever I could to contribute small comfort,” she said of that period in the young princes’ lives. “Just to be there in the kitchen when the boys would come in and out. We’d chat, have fun, and I would make special treats for them.”
Those special treats included treacle tarts for Harry–which he would try to nick before breakfast–and William’s favorite chocolate biscuit cake. Incidentally, that’s also the favorite treat of Queen Elizabeth.
Simple, Light Cooking
“People assume that they live on a diet of caviar and lobster and foie gras, which really isn’t the case,” Robb said. She explained that the Royal couple was wined and dined at public engagements, offered the richest and most decadent foods.
When Charles, Diana and the boys were at their private apartments, however, they preferred “light home cooking.”
Robb revealed that Charles was a big fan of game (such as pheasant) while Diana opted for chicken, fish and salads.
Prince Charles: Organic Pioneer
Charles was an advocate for organic food long before the rest of the world caught on. According to Robb, he was also a keen mushroom forager and would sometimes offer to take the chef with him to find wild food.
“It was always good to go with him, he knew a lot more about them than I did,” she said. “He was very hands on, and knew exactly what was in the garden. All of our menus were planned around what was in season in the garden.”