With access to such a large amount of money and resources, you’d think the English rulers would have nothing but the finest of meals. When Queen Elizabeth dines with her family at Windsor Castle, however, this isn’t normally the case. Though the phrase “eat like a queen” references a taste for everything fabulous, elegant, and luxurious, the saying doesn’t quite fit Queen Elizabeth and her ilk. One of her previous chefs revealed what the long-ruling royal prefers on a daily basis.

Darren McGrady was the queen’s personal chef for 15 years at Buckingham Palace. He even traveled with her on two tours of Australia and cooked for five American presidents when they visited her majesty: Ford, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr.

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Darren also cooked for other members of the royal family, including Princess Diana. On the night of her death, August 31, 1997, he had prepared dinner for her. It was waiting for her on the table when she was in a deadly car crash in a tunnel in Paris.

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Darren wrote Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen, which chronicles his time with the queen and gives plenty of behind-the-scenes information about her meal preferences.

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While he was her personal chef in the ’80s and early ’90s, he found out that Queen Elizabeth eats four small meals daily: breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. She’s held this schedule for many years.

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“HRH [Her Royal Highness] typically starts with a simple cup of tea and biscuits, followed by a bowl of cereal,” Katie Nicholl, royal biographer said. Her cereal is stored in Tupperware, so it remains perfectly fresh. Fancy living, here we come!

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For lunch, she’ll enjoy some kind of grilled fish or chicken with a salad or some kind of cooked vegetable. She’s definitely eating fairly healthy — could this be the secret to her long life?

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During her afternoon tea, she enjoys a special treat: scones with jam and clotted cream. No matter where she is in the world, Queen Elizabeth always has her afternoon tea. She also likes to keep it on schedule by always adhering to the British time zone.

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“She’d always have afternoon tea wherever she was in the world. We’d flown out to Australia and were on the Royal Yacht. It was five o’clock in the morning but for the Queen it was five in the afternoon so my first job was making scones,” Darren said.

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There were 20 other chefs while Darren worked with the royals. The head chef would provide a menu for HRH twice a week, and she would select her own meals. If she didn’t like a dish, she’d never complain to the staff, but always make a small note to the chef instead.

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One of her favorite meals is Morecambe Bay potted shrimp on toast. “They’re cooked and marinated in this secret spicy butter. And then the Queen would have them with warm toast, and when you spread them on the warm toast, the butter melts,” Darren said.

The queen is also quite partial to chocolate. “She is absolutely a chocoholic. Anything we put on the menu that had chocolate on, she would choose, especially chocolate perfection pie,” Darren said.

Darren McGrady

Another decadent favorite was a croque monsieur sandwich. This melty sandwich is made from Gruyère, ham, and whipped eggs — it’s rich and cheesy, making it a perfect hangover food, as well as a queenly preference.

Her husband, Prince Philip, enjoys salmon coulibiac. Apparently, there was always plenty of salmon because the royal couple loved to fish together at Balmoral castle. They ate many of their own local fish.

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Queen Elizabeth also has a few drinks she particularly loves. Her cousin, Margaret Rhodes, shared in an interview that she usually goes for gin and Dubonnet or a glass of champagne. There’s nothing like ending the royal day with a royal drink.

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Every Friday, the royals and their entire staff would eat a fish and chips meal. “All the staff, 300 staff at Buckingham Palace, all of the chefs would have fish and chips for lunch,” Darren said. The queen’s condiments of choice were Worcestershire sauce, Houses of Parliament Sauce (an English staple), and Heinz ketchup.

There’s another important meal in the home — the one being prepared for the queen’s corgis. “I later learned that was one of the most important meals of the day when it came to the Queen,” Darren said. He would cut beef, liver, and chicken for the well-fed dogs.

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Though the queen is polite when expressing her displeasure, she definitely has a few ingredients that the chefs know they can’t use. She can’t stand strong flavors like garlic and onion, so these were never a part of the menu.

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One of the biggest and most important meals of the year would be the Christmas meal. The royals are traditional with their preferences. “It was the same meal every year,” he said. “They’re actually boring when it comes to festivities. They didn’t do hams or anything, just traditional turkeys.”

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Though it was traditional, they didn’t skimp on the amount. “We did three turkeys for the Queen and her family in the royal dining room, one for the children’s nursery and then more for the 100 or so staff, so everyone had a Christmas lunch,” Darren said.

Of course, dessert was a showstopper. According to Darren, they’d serve up a massive Christmas pudding that was “decorated in holly, doused in brandy, and the palace steward would carry it, flaming, into the royal dining room.” Yum. Of course, the Queen needs a hearty diet to carry on with her hectic schedule.

Over her decades of official visits, Queen Elizabeth has been to 177 different countries — including some never seen before by a British monarch. She was the first in her line to visit both China and the Middle East.

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2. Thanks to archaic British laws that were never taken off the books, entire populations of wild animals technically belong to the royal family. For instance, the Queen has legal ownership over every swan in the River Thames and every whale within three miles of British coasts!

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3. Luckily, Queen Elizabeth is a true animal lover, and her horses might just be her favorites. Her thoroughbreds have triumphed in over 1,600 competitions, which means that the Queen is one of the most successful racehorse owners in the sport.

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4. Propelled by a strong sense of duty, Elizabeth became the only female royal family member to ever serve in World War II. She enlisted with the Auxiliary Territorial Service, in which she trained to be a mechanic and truck driver.

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5. As the sovereign of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth isn’t actually required to have a driver’s license to operate a vehicle! Fortunately, she’s been behind the wheel since the 1940s, so the Queen is more than able to drive — though she usually prefers to ride.

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6. It’s no secret that the Queen loves her corgis, as she’s cared for more than 30 of them since taking the throne. She even created her own dog breed, the dorgi, by combining a corgi with a dachshund!

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7. Elizabeth owns many priceless pieces of jewelry, but the highlight of her collection might just be the Imperial State Crown. The regal headwear flashes with 2,868 diamonds, in addition to dozens of other precious stones.

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8. In 1982, a barfly named Michael Fagan climbed up a Buckingham Palace drainpipe and entered the Queen’s bedroom, right as she was settling in for the evening. Reportedly, she politely chatted with him for a couple minutes before fleeing barefoot and calling security.

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9. As one of the longest ruling monarchs in history, Elizabeth II has seen many other world leadership positions swirl like a revolving door. For instance, she’s met seven different popes during her reign!

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10. The Queen’s childhood name was Lilibet. It came about at an early age when her sister, Princess Margaret, struggled to say “Elizabeth.” The mispronunciation stuck with her as a family inside joke.

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11. Elizabeth can appreciate a well-stocked bar as much as anyone. Her daily imbibing routine includes a gin and Dubonnet in the late morning, a lunchtime martini, and a glass of champagne before bedtime.

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12. She and longtime husband Prince Philip go way back. At ages 8 and 14, respectively, they first met, though they didn’t start keeping in regular touch until their teenage years. On top of that, the couple happens to be third cousins!

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13. The Queen has gone digital! Back in 1976, she had the honor of sending the first ever royal email, and she set another milestone by posting her first tweet in 2014.

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14. In spite of her mountain of riches, the Queen doesn’t get to keep everything. She has paid income taxes since 1992, though she does so voluntarily. There is no law requiring royals to pay this tax, but Elizabeth sees it as her duty.

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15. Set to marry Prince Philip in 1947, just two years after the Second World War’s end, fabric was in short supply. That’s why Queen Elizabeth actually paid for her wedding dress with clothing coupons! She must have needed a lot to get such a long veil.

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16. The camera loves her! As a matter of fact, Queen Elizabeth was the first British ruler to have her coronation televised. In earlier years, TV cameras were not permitted inside Westminster Abbey.

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17. You might think you take a lot of selfies, but Elizabeth has sat for about 140 official portraits during her lifetime. The first painting she appeared in shows her at the tender age of seven!

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18. In contrast to the staid colors favored by her family members, the Queen usually sports bright shades and pastel clothing. She adopted this wardrobe to help her stand out in a crowd, which is quite helpful, given that she stands at only five feet and four inches.

19. Reportedly, the hardest that the Queen ever laughed was when her own mother — about 100 years old at the time — sat down at the dinner table and did an impromptu Ali G impression. She must’ve been the world’s least likely Sacha Baron Cohen fan!

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20. Hundreds flock to Elizabeth’s birthplace at 17 Bruton Street in London every day…though not necessarily for Elizabeth. The building now houses Hakkasan, a Michelin-rated Chinese restaurant!

21. For all her privileges, the Queen and her family still follow some puzzling rules and traditions. You’d think that Elizabeth would be willing to shell out a few bucks for a decent brand of nail polish. Well, you thought wrong, as Her Highness will only wear “Ballet Slippers” by Essie, which costs a cool $9/bottle.

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22. Mon-arch-opoly: The perfect name for a royal edition of the board game, no? Well, the game wouldn’t be permitted in Kensington Palace, as the Royal Family isn’t allowed to play Monopoly; in the past, rounds of the game had supposedly turned “vicious.” Yikes.

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23. Nothing Fishy Here: Royals are also forbidden from eating seafood, as one bad shrimp is all it takes to completely sideline them from their daily responsibilities. But, as you can see, not every member of the Royal Family takes the rule too seriously…

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24. Heir Scare: No two heirs to the throne are allowed to travel together so the royal bloodline can’t end in a single fatal accident. Prince William has broken this rule several times, however, as he’s been known to travel with his son, Prince George.

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25. Vampires Welcome: Of all the foods the Queen refuses to touch, garlic tops the list. Because she makes so many public appearances, garlic breath is out of the question. That’s why you won’t find any dishes with the pungent herb served in Buckingham.

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26. The Queen Takes Hostages: In the days of bitter tensions between the British government and the crown, the royal house would take an MP hostage to ensure the monarch’s safe return following visits to Parliament. The tradition continues to this day, though the “hostages” are well taken care of.

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27. Don’t Send a Raven: After being warned “if the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it,” Charles II mandated that at least six ravens live in the tower at all times. Descendants of these birds still call the tower home.

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28. A Born Actress: The Royal Family would be hard pressed to let a Christmas go by without their annual game of charades. There’s just one rule: never upstage the Queen. If she acts well, you applaud. If she tells a joke, you laugh.

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29. The “Charlotte Effect”: Move over, Prince George — it’s Princess Charlotte that really brings home the bacon. Dubbed the “Charlotte Effect,” the young royal’s birth has generated a staggering $5 billion for the British economy, almost $2 billion more than her elder brother has.

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30. Well-Dressed & Well-Prepared: Her Highness uses her handbag to give signals to her security team; in the event that she’s looking to get out of a conversation, she’ll typically switch the bag to her other hand.

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31. Famous Flowers: For the Royal Family, no wedding is complete without one very special flower: the myrtle. Since the 1800s, every royal bride has carried a sprig in their bouquet, picked fresh from Queen Victoria’s 170-year-old garden.

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32. Back in Black: Whenever the Royal Family leaves the country, each member is required to pack an all-black outfit in the event that someone close to the crown or country dies while they’re abroad. That’s totally not morbid at all…

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33. Wakey Wakey: If you think the Queen rises every morning to the sound of “Slow Rise,” then you’re sadly mistaken. Her Majesty actually employs a member of the British military to stand beneath her window and play the bagpipes to gently ease her awake.

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34. A Not-So-Slight Prick: When selecting a new High Sheriff for a county, the Queen uses a sewing needle. The practice of “pricking” goes back to Elizabeth I, who would pierce the name of her newest Sheriff while embroidering and usually didn’t have a pen on hand.

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35. The Name Game: Monarchs are still asked what name they’ll choose to take upon ascending the throne. Prince Charles is expected to take the name George VII when he becomes king to avoid association with King Charles I and II.

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36. Do As I Do: On the endless list of rules one must follow when dining with the Queen, the most important is to stop eating or drinking as soon as she does. This practice began with Queen Victoria, a notoriously fast eater.

37. The “Vow of the Peacock”: What Christmas feast is complete without skinning a peacock, roasting it whole, redressing it with gold leaf and its own feathers, and then swearing an oath upon it? This practice has long since died out, but the “Vow of the Peacock” was once a yearly tradition among the Royal Family.

38. The “Royal We“: Also known as the “majestic plural,” the tradition of monarch’s using of we when referring to themselves originated in the days of the “divine right of kings.” Then, monarchs claimed to be speaking with both their own voice as well as God’s.

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39. Queen in Name: Since the establishment of Parliament, the Queen now serves mainly as a figurehead. For this reason, the Royal Family maintains a neutral stance when it comes politics — at least publicly, anyway.

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While the Royal Family has maintained traditions, they’ve certainly changed in other ways. Here we have future Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip along with their two eldest children, Charles and Anne, standing with King George VI in 1951.

1953: After the death of George VI a year earlier, his eldest daughter ascended to the throne and became Queen Elizabeth II. Philip, in turn, received the title of prince consort. Below, the couple waves to their subjects from Buckingham Palace.

1960: A third royal child, Prince Andrew, arrived. The newborn enjoys a picnic with his parents and siblings during a holiday in Balmoral, Scotland. That’s right — that castle in the background was only their vacation home.

1965: This Christmas photo depicts the Royal Family shortly after the birth of Elizabeth and Philip’s fourth and final child, Prince Edward. Their household grew livelier than ever, and the new generation of royals quickly endeared themselves to the British public.

1971: Coming up on twenty years as monarch, Elizabeth greets onlookers with Edward, Andrew, and her niece Lady Sarah. They are headed to meet the rest of their extended family for a winter holiday at Sandringham House.

1976: By this point, Elizabeth’s children are old enough to rebel a bit. Prince Andrew laughs at his mother from the second row as she nervously rides at the front of a cable car. Edward, seated next to her, looks a little bit more respectful.

1977: This year marks Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee of 25 years on the British throne. She celebrated by visiting 36 different countries in the span of a few months, followed by a massive procession through London.

1980: For Prince Charles, most of the 1970s were his “bachelor years.” He seemed more content to party and jump between girlfriends than seriously pursue marriage. Here, he sips a coconut drink in Bhubaneswar, India, but he wouldn’t stay a bachelor for long.

1981: Incredible hype built up once Prince Charles announced that he would marry Lady Diana Spencer. The press dubbed the event “The Wedding of the Century,” and the public followed every aspect of the ceremony with fervor.

1982: Diana and Charles had their first son, William. The new parents play with William in Kensington Palace, though they didn’t refer to him as William behind closed doors. Interestingly, their family nickname for the young prince was “Wombat.”

1988: Four years earlier, Diana gave birth to her second son, Prince Harry. Far from shy of the many cameras around him, Harry sticks his tongue out from the Buckingham Palace balcony while Diana tells him to stop.

1992: Below, Philip, Charles, Elizabeth, and the Queen Mother depart from Princess Anne’s wedding. However, 1992 was not an easy year for the family. In addition to a fire in Windsor castle, marital troubles sprung up for Elizabeth’s children.

1995: Hurt by extramarital affairs and a 13-year age gap, Charles and Diana were separated throughout the early 1990s. However, they still attended official events together. They divorced a year later, though the greatest tragedy was yet to come.

1997: The entire world went into shock with the news that Princess Diana died in a violent Paris car crash. Thousands of guests attended her funeral at Westminster Abbey, while millions more watched on television. Her sons were only 15 and 12 at the time.

2002: More loss followed the royal family into the new millennium, though this instance was admittedly less shocking. The Queen Mother passed away at age 101. On a happier note, Queen Elizabeth reached her Golden Jubilee on this same year.

2005: Prince Charles carried on an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles while still married to Diana, so Charles and Camila met controversy when they announced their engagement. As a result, they chose to marry in a civil ceremony instead of a royal wedding.

2006: Now all grown up, Prince Harry decided to follow William into the military. As a Cornet in the famed Blues and Royals regiment, he stands at attention with his saber as Queen Elizabeth walks by. Still, he cannot help but crack a smile at his grandmother.

2011: The Brits — and just about everyone else — went crazy for the next generation of royal weddings. Prince William married Kate Middleton, a classmate from the University of St. Andrews, and over 160 million people watched the lavish ceremony.

2017: The Royal family celebrates the 91st birthday of Queen Elizabeth, who also became the longest-reigning British monarch a couple years prior. William and Kate’s young children, George and Charlotte, watch the fanfare with excitement.

2018: Harry matched his brother’s fairytale wedding with one of his own. He married American actress Meghan Markle, best known from the TV show Suits. Meghan’s entry into the royal family is also notable because she is a woman of color.

Somehow, with all eyes on them, the Royal Family has managed to carve out somewhat normal lives for themselves. Ever annoy a sibling just because you feel like it? Prince Harry is teasing his older brother with a rather large boa constrictor. It’s all in good fun… unless you’re William.

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When Prince William and Duchess Kate aren’t holding down the fort in Kensington Palace, they like to escape royal life by going on a holiday. After welcoming Princess Charlotte, the two went skiing. Kate surprised William with a friendly snowball fight.

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They may not be blood relatives, but that doesn’t stop Kate and Meghan from gossiping like sisters while attending a tennis match with the rest of the family. What we wouldn’t give to hear what they’re talking about!

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Long before Kate was the Duchess of Cambridge, she was just plain-ol’ Kate Middleton. She wore silky dresses like the one below and took hackney carriages (taxis) from place to place with her baby sister Pippa.

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The future queen consort might be the coolest royal of them all. Not only is she holding her own on those roller skates, but she looks like she hasn’t aged. Talk about good genes.

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Prince Charles might be 70 years old, but this photo shows he’s still a schoolboy at heart. He’s been waiting seven decades to ascend the royal throne, but it doesn’t look like it’s happening anytime soon, so for now, this wall will have to do. Hang in there, Charles.

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This candid moment captured the Duchess of Cambridge catching the clumsy Countess of Wessex as she tripped while getting into the carriage. Good thing Kate caught her, otherwise that would have been a royal pain.

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Watching Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s love story has been like a real-life fairy-tale, and it’s only getting better. A photo like this really captures the dynamic relationship between the two. Find someone who looks at you like Harry looks at Meghan.

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Kate and William met while they were studying at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Who knows where they were going in this picture, but Kate sure does look annoyed with her beau. We feel you, Kate.

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Like we mentioned before, sports are a huge part of royal life. Unfortunately, the All England Club did not treat the Prince and Duchess well on this outing. The match must have been torturous to watch judging by their faces.

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Prince Harry has always been the goofball of the royal family. Here, it looks like he was participating in a charity event in place of — or without — his older brother Prince William. No worries, though: Harry made sure his brother was there in spirit.

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Kids are kids regardless if they have royal blood pumping through their veins. Look at little Prince Harry and Prince William enjoying a heart-pounding ride on the Nemesis at Alton Towers. We wonder if the brothers still ride roller coasters from time to time…

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And Princess Charlotte knows all too well that having royal blood doesn’t give her the power of endless energy. Being a royal kid is hard work, and it looks like it’s cutting into the princess’ nap time. Someone get her a royal blankey!

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Queen Elizabeth has sat on the British throne longer than any other monarch. That’s a long time in the public eye. Apparently, when the queen isn’t attending political affairs, she is outside catching snowflakes on her tongue.

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Kids love to stick their tongues out whenever a camera appears, too. Prince Harry might not be king, but he has always been the king of the silly-face pose. And he’s not alone. Even Princess Charlotte has been caught a time or two sporting this face to the cameras.

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Royal sunglasses must not be part of the event wardrobe protocol! Not even the duchesses’ fancy hats can block the sun from their eyes.

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Seeing how Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expecting parents, it makes total sense that they have paternal and maternal instincts. It’s so endearing to see the pair interact with the youth of their country.

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Kate looks like she is having so much fun during her university days. She’s right in the middle of St. Andrews annual foam fight that welcomes new students. Even since college, Kate’s been a leader.

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Most people make this face when they meet Prince Harry, but he seems to be quite shocked himself. He better hold on tight to that tray of cupcakes before he accidentally throws them in the air.

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Curious from a young age, William was caught peeking up the skirt of the Prince of Whales during a fishing trip. We all know there are no fish up there, but William needed to check it out for himself first.

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A family that jokes together stays together, and William and Harry always make sure their family is in good spirits. Here they are in their younger days teaching the fam how to do the wave!

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A bit of healthy competition between brothers is totally normal. William and Harry weren’t afraid to put down the suits and roll around in the mud at their polo match. It got a little messy, to say the least.

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