Queen Elizabeth's Secret Morning Routine Is Just as Regal as You'd Expect
The six-step process for Her Majesty includes a bowl of Special K and a serenade from a lone bagpiper.
According to Palace insiders, Queen Elizabeth isn't really a morning person, but you'd never know it given her penchant for a very detailed and disciplined morning routine. Throughout her 65-year reign—the longest in British history—Her Majesty has shown she's nothing if not consistent. That's why her morning regimen is so fascinating—it's an intriguing mix of the mundane and the extraordinary. In fact, there's one particularly enchanting element that proves when it comes to out-of-the-box wake-up calls, the 94-year-old monarch reigns supreme. Here are the six things Queen Elizabeth does every morning to keep calm and carry on. And for more on Her Majesty, check out 13 Secrets About Queen Elizabeth Only Royal Insiders Know.
She wakes up to a cup of tea and the news.
Every morning, Queen Elizabeth is awakened at 7:30 a.m. by a member of her staff who enters Her Majesty's pale green bedroom to deliver her first cup of Earl Grey tea (with milk, no sugar). It's served on a silver tray with a freshly pressed linen napkin, embossed with the royal cypher E II R, draped across the top. While the Queen sips her tea, her bedroom radio is tuned to BBC Radio 4 to listen to all the political news of the day. Fun fact: The Queen regularly listened to Welsh-born broadcaster John Humphrys, who hosted the BBC Radio 4 morning talk show Today, and retired last year before achieving his goal of gaining an interview with her. And for more on another royal rising in the ranks, check out This British Royal Is Now More Popular Than the Queen, New Poll Shows.
Then she enjoys a leisurely bath.
Despite her full schedule of daily events, Queen Elizabeth isn't a fan of quick showers. While Her Majesty is sipping her last cup of tea, her maid runs her bath, which must be the exact right temperature taken by a wooden-cased thermometer in a tub of no more than seven inches of water. According to Express, Her Majesty is so fond of her morning bath, she has even made time for them over the years while traveling overnight on the Royal Train, where the operators were instructed to avoid bumpy tracks to make sure the Queen's bathwater wasn't splashed around.
A team of stylists gets her ready to face the day.
While the Queen is in the bath, one of her three dressers lays out the first outfit of the day in Her Majesty's dressing room, complete with floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Depending on her schedule, the Queen could change as many as five times in a day.
The dressers are supervised by Angela Kelly, the Queen's longtime personal advisor and curator of her wardrobe. Over the years, Kelly, who has worked for the Queen since 1993, has become a close friend and gatekeeper. She has also designed some of the Queen's most memorable outfits, including the pale yellow ensemble that she wore to Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011. In 2012, Kelly was made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order at Buckingham Palace. In 2019, she wrote about a book about her working relationship with the Queen, The Other Side of the Coin, which was endorsed by Her Majesty.
The Queen's loyalty also extends to her locks. For over 20 years, she has had her hair done by London-based Scot Ian Carmichael, who makes several visits a week to the Palace. While staying at Windsor Castle during the height of the pandemic, however, Her Majesty was styling her own hair, The Sun reported. An insider told the outlet, "The Queen has done her own hair for years at Balmoral during her summer holidays and so she's used to it. … She washes, drys, and sets it herself—and she's very good at it! She has had lots of practice and so she knows exactly what to do." And for more royal coiffure factoids, Here's Why Princess Diana Never Changed Her Hairstyle Around the Queen.
She eats a decidedly unroyal breakfast.
Chef Darren McGrady told The Telegraph the Queen generally eats the same (or similar) things every day. For her first meal of the day, which is served at exactly 8:30 a.m., the Queen enjoys some more Earl Grey tea (sometimes with a few biscuits) along with her favorite cereal, Special K, which she prefers to keep in a Tupperware container on the dining room table while she is eating.
If she feels like mixing things up a bit, Her Majesty will reportedly request scrambled eggs (she prefers brown eggs because she thinks they taste better) with smoked salmon with a grating of truffle. "She eats to live, unlike Prince Philip, who loves to eat and would stand and talk food all day," said McGrady. And for more on the royals' diet plans and exercise regimes, check out The Secret Ways All of the British Royals Stay Fit.
She is serenaded by a lone bagpiper for precisely 15 minutes.
Every weekday since she ascended the throne in 1952, at approximately 9 a.m., the Queen walks to the terrace of Buckingham Palace to enjoy a truly royal start to her day: the sound of bagpipes from a single piper, the Pipe Major, stationed just below her terrace who plays for exactly 15 minutes. The time-honored tradition dates back to her great great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, and is an important constant in the Queen's life.
The Piper to the Sovereign's most important duty is to play under the Queen's window when she is at Buckingham Palace, Windsor, Holyroodhouse, and Balmoral. The Pipe Major (a member of the British army) also oversees the 12 Army pipers who play at state banquets and escorts Her Majesty to her daily audiences. A Palace insider told The Daily Mail, "People can hear the pipes around the estate. It creates a really lovely, evocative atmosphere and sets you up for the day."
But in 2018, the pipes were silenced for the first time in 175 years when Pipe Major Scott Methven of the 5 Scots Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders had to relinquish his duties unexpectedly for family reasons. Because Methven, who had been the Queen's piper since 2015, had to bow out without notice, a replacement could not be found in time and the pipes sat silent for weeks before the lilting daily tunes could be heard once again.
She gets to her desk and dives into her paperwork.
By 9:30 a.m., the Queen is at her Chippendale desk in her sitting room office, diving into what usually winds up being two hours of paperwork. She also reviews a daily briefing of important news stories from television and radio prepared by her press secretary, along with the morning's newspapers.
According to The Daily Mail, there is a crystal double inkwell on the Queen's desk that contains both the black ink Her Majesty uses to sign official documents as well as her favorite green ink that she uses for her personal letters. Whatever ink she's using, she writes using her favorite fountain pen.
To protect the Queen's privacy, the desk's blotting paper is black so no one can read what she's written by holding it up to a mirror and it's also replaced every day. A source told The Daily Mail, "This is very much a working desk. It may appear cluttered and untidy to the average eye, but the Queen knows where everything is and hates it if anything is moved without her permission."
When Her Majesty has gotten through her morning routine, she presses a button under the desk and summons her private secretary with the words, "Would you like to come up?" And that's when her day truly starts. And for more on the queen, check out The Secret Nickname Prince Philip Has for Queen Elizabeth.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.