As a longtime chef for the British royal family, Darren McGrady was closely positioned to see what Princess Diana was really like behind closed palace doors. After her separation from Prince Charles, she specifically requested McGrady be the personal chef for her and her sons, a role he kept until Diana’s death in 1997.
Over the years, McGrady has revealed fascinating tidbits about the late royal and friend he knew so well, including many details about her happiness in raising her two sons. These are our favorite highlights.
1. She used to let Harry and William watch TV during dinner.
McGrady recalled the royals as being like any normal family, lacking any stiff pretenses at all. “We’d always know when they were home, because they’d be thundering up and down along the corridor or racing through the kitchen in their army uniforms playing soldiers,” said McGrady, who remembers them occasionally eating their meals in front of the television.
2. She also let them eat regular kid-friendly foods.
While Diana was often interested in only healthy meals for herself, the kids’ favorites included spaghetti and meatballs, cottage pie, banana flans, burgers, pizza, and the occasional sticky toffee pudding.
3. Prince Harry loved the food at Disney World.
McGrady prepared bacon for Harry not long after the princes had visited Disney World. “He said, ‘Can you put the bacon in the microwave on some paper towel and put it on for one minute? When we were at Disney World, they do bacon so crispy it snaps!'” the chef recalled to ABC News. “This is little Harry telling me how to cook!”
4. Prince William once had a very different career goal.
McGrady recalled William, 36, the second-in-line to the British throne, saying, “‘Darren, when I grow up I’m gonna be a police motorcyclist.’ And I stopped and looked and said, ‘William, I think they’ve got other plans for you.'”
5. Diana wasn’t the best cook — but not for lack of trying.
When she and a friend once tried to make their own dinner, “The spaghetti boiled over and it put the pilot light out… She could smell gas,” said McGrady. “Monday morning she came into the kitchen and said, ‘Darren, you won’t believe I nearly set the whole palace on fire, but you know the best part? I had 12 hunky firemen all to myself.'”
6. Her kindness and generosity were extremely genuine.
“She was always interested in what was going on behind those doors in the kitchen, what was my wife up to. She always remembered birthdays.” The princess even once asked him to go to the Harrods department store to buy 50 blankets for people in need.
“She went off driving around Kings Cross on her own, putting them next to the trash cans still with the Harrods label on them,” he remembered.
7. She had always wanted a daughter.
“The princess always wanted a little girl,” McGrady said. “She would have been there every day just hugging and holding Charlotte. She would be spoiling them crazy… She would have been the best grandmother I think anyone could have.”