Queen Elizabeth's Former Chef Said Living at the Palace Was Just Like 'Downton Abbey'...Because What Is a Weekend?

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The Granthams may have fictionally occupied Downton Abbey nearly a century ago, but their way of life is still very real. That is, if you're Queen Elizabeth.

According to the queen's former chef, Darren McGrady, who worked as the live-in chef at Buckingham Palace from 1982 until 1993, before moving to Kensington Palace to cook for Princess Diana and Princes William and Harry until 1997, working at the queen's London residence was just like PBS's Downton Abbey.

McGrady told Insider that B.P. reminded him of the popular British historical drama because there were separate quarters for the male and female staff.

"I had a room at the palace. When I lived there, it was roomed very much like a show called 'Downton Abbey,'" McGrady said. "We had the male kitchen wing, the female kitchen wing, the footmen's floor, the housemaids' floor, and you weren't allowed on the different floors.

Just like the whole Anna Smith and Mr. Bates situation, huh?

"If you were a chef or a footman and you were trying to sneak up to the housemaids' floor and you got caught, you were in serious trouble. Everyone was segregated, it was the done thing," he continued.

"We were part of the Victorian era. You couldn't even begin to imagine single males and single females being on the same floor together," he added.

McGrady went on to describe day-to-day life at the Palace. Staff received a free cooked breakfast, a three-course lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The staff had their own bar— where the drinks were "hugely discounted," and a cleaning person who would make their bed each morning.

"Each floor had its own cleaning lady that would come in and make the beds, change the towels, give you soap," the former royal chef said.

"It was like a hotel, an institution. You can see why people stayed there for 30 years or more, because you were given everything you needed. What you were paid was just pocket money," he added.

And he's not the only one to compare Queen Elizabeth's 775-room London home to the show. Princess Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, told The Mirror back in 2017 that "If you multiply 'Downton' by 100, that's Buckingham Palace."

"The TV people should do a series, 'Downstairs at the Palace,' it would be phenomenal," he said. "It's a village, a world of its own...the cherry on the cake is Her Majesty at the top of it all."

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Roberta Fiorito

Senior Editor, Branded Content + Cohost, Royally Obsessed Podcast

In her 8 years at Gallery Media Group, Roberta has written about fashion, beauty, news, trends and the royal family. She is currently Senior Editor of Branded Content at...
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