After an entire lifetime of emotionally fraught web-clicking trying to determine which Disney princess I am, I stand on the other side of those [number redacted because author is too embarrassed to admit it] personality quizzes and know a much grander truth: I am, in fact, a queen. And just to make sure that all of my coworkers in our open seating office were as fully aware of this fact as I am, I ate like Queen Elizabeth II for a day — alleged pre-lunch cocktail and all.
Queen Elizabeth II, who recently set the record for the longest-reigning monarch in British history, has always served as somewhat of a fascination to me. We have a lot in common, you see. She, at 25, was married, had two children, and became sovereign of the Commonwealth, which at the time included 12 countries that have since gained their independence. I, at 25, have zero romantic prospects, the ghosts of several dead pet goldfish, and a plastic crown that still smells like the beer someone spilled on it in the Halloween of 2011. As the kids say: "SAMESIES."
In reality, though, what fascinates me about the story of Queen Elizabeth is that when she was born, few thought she would ever be queen. She was third in line to a throne that presumably a child of her uncle's would have taken over, if he hadn't abdicated. And yet she found herself queen, at a remarkably young age, at that. It's that same fascination that compelled me to re-watch The Princess Diaries three times a year as a kid — that all-encompassing idea of ~destiny~; that circumstances outside of your control might actually be fate.
Assuming that Julie Andrews isn't going to tap me on the shoulder tomorrow and let me know I'm the heir apparent to some unheard of European nation, my own destiny is pretty squarely "hot mess writer in New York" and less "corgi-owning badass queen beloved by millions." (Actually, the closest I'll ever get to being an actual royal is through aforementioned corgis, one of whom shares my first name. #Fame.) But that didn't mean I couldn't get a (literal) taste of what it was like to be queen ... hence, this perhaps ill-advised eating experiment that might just have served to horrify all of Bustle dot com's unsuspecting employees. Journey with me, fellow commoners, as I attempted to ball as hard as the Queen on a Tuesday at work, based on what various reports claim her Royal Highness eats and drinks.
The Queen usually begins her day with a cup of Earl Grey tea and biscuits as a pre-breakfast, according to BT. As someone who has secretly harbored a desire to eat multiple breakfasts like a hobbit since the first Lord of the Rings movie, this prospect thrilled me; as someone who has 32 sweet teeth, drinking my tea without sugar felt like a personal affront.
It's about this time the Queen catches up on the news of the day, so I did the same. I typically get to work about a half hour before the rest of the Bustle crew does because I do not trust the gods of public transportation, and this afforded me a good half an hour to sit with my tea and biscuits, check Google News, and ponder the state of the fictional nation I was in charge of. We're doing quite well, by the way. Our main exports are crying rainbow unicorn candles and GIFs of Oscar Isaac's face doing handsome things. Once a year there is a screening of Mean Girls outside the main castle gardens, and full public attendance is mandatory.
It's a good life.
The Telegraph reports that for breakfast, the Queen enjoys cereal and fruit, and tends to gravitate toward Special K (served out of tupperware, which she thinks keeps it the freshest). Some days, her former personal chef Darren McGrady revealed, she prefers toast with marmalade, and on special occasions she'll partake in scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and truffle — but only around Christmas, or if truffle is sent as a gift.
Because my truffle budget is a little low this month (bummer, amirite?), I stuck with with my ole staple, Special K. I'm gonna be honest — as much as I love me some Special K, this felt like a bit of a letdown. Did I really become the monarch of my own invisible empire just so I could eat the same breakfast I've been eating every day since I was 15?! But I suppose, if anything, our mutual affinity for this brand proves that the Queen and I are two peas in a tupperware-sealed pod. Maybe this whole running a Commonwealth business wasn't as hard as it looked!
Don't hate: but the day I did this experiment was also the day before I dashed off to Europe for a week (I had a hella flight deal, OK?). That being said, I was mega-stressed trying to make sure everything was squared away before I took off work, so I was more than happy to partake in the Queen's pre-lunch gin and Dubonnet, as reported by The Independent.
Despite the fact that Dubonnet — apparently a sweet, wine-based aperitif that packs a punch (a 15 percent alcohol kind of punch, in fact) — is produced both in France and Kentucky, I had not the resources to secure myself a bottle, and was forced to celebrate my new Queenliness by mixing gin with some warm Diet Coke someone didn't keep a good enough eye on in the kitchen. It was not delicious, but it certainly did the trick — if the trick is concerning your coworkers by openly consuming hard liquor at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday, that is. (And if the second part of the trick is pretending to not be a little bit sloshed at your desk every time someone walked by in the hour that followed. Ay-ooo.)
I'm gonna be honest here, Queen Elizabeth — I'm giving your lunch 0/10 Mermaid Scales, which is the standard unit of measure my loyal subjects and I use to judge the quality of things. Former royal chef Darren McGrady also revealed to The Telegraph that the Queen usually has something relatively simple for lunch, like fish and vegetables. She also typically has has a "no starch" rule when she's eating alone, which is basically the opposite of my human life, where the rule is usually "all starch, always, regardless of the situation". (I'm gonna live forever, it's fine.)
At about this point in the day, the Queen often has official engagements or meetings to attend — as did I. Granted, my meeting brainstorming ideas for a Facebook Live video probably didn't have the gravity of, say, meeting one of the 12 presidents who have been in office during her single reign, I did feel some queenly swagger walking in fresh off of six hours of royal eating — and, let's be honest, I was more than a little gin buzzed. Nothing like getting royally sauced at work to get the ideas flowing. (Is this perhaps how the Queen has been able to bite her tongue about whether she favors a political party all of these years?)
Side note: please expect this schmexy pic of me manhandling dead fish in a Playboy magazine spread near you.
My whole life I have not-so-secretly longed to be British, for two primary reasons: accidentally-on-purpose bumping into J.K. Rowling on a London street corner and becoming her new BFF, and afternoon tea. The Queen partakes in this ritual, which, according to The Telegraph, often involves finger sandwiches, scones, biscuits, or chocolate biscuit cake made from McVities Rich Tea biscuits. I personally went the scone, biscuit, and annoy-your-coworkers-by-making-a-spectacle-of-yourself route. To each their own.
In case you weren't already aware, you can basically thank the royals for afternoon tea. It started as a habit of Anna Maria Russell, a close friend of Queen Victoria; apparently too peckish to wait for the customary 9:30 p.m. summertime dinners, she requested bread and butter and a little bit of cake with her Darjeeling tea. When Queen Victoria caught on, she made it A Thing — the recipe for her Victoria Sponge Cake from the late 19th century is still in use today.
While I'm far too lazy to invent my own iconic dessert, I am all too happy to jump on this cake train. Truly, there is no 5 p.m. slump that taking a scone to the face can't fix.
Does this steak look hideous to you? Because your eyes do not deceive. It was, in fact, the most repulsive "steak" I'd ever laid my eyes on, and if my own royal personal chef had set it down in front of me, I'd have set the corgis on him, Game of Thrones-style.
While Queen Elizabeth enjoys "fillets of beef or venison, pheasant, or salmon," according to Business Insider, this was ... something else entirely. Which I guess is what happens when you Seamless a steak to your midtown office without checking the Yelp reviews (yet another predicament the real Queen will never have to endure).
You would think at about this time of day a tired Queen could get some rest, but Queen Elizabeth II is still out and about — whether with engagements, chilling with her beloved dogs, or holding weekly meetings with the Prime Minister at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, a meeting where no minutes are taken or discussed beyond the room's walls. Since this is about the time my brain goes to rot at the end of a day, I find this extremely commendable, and attempted to follow suit by being productive after the work day rounded to a close at 6 p.m. But between the early noon gin, the delicious scone, and the lulling effect of the bit of steak I managed to eat, I was Out For The Count before most of my coworkers hit the elevators. Sorry not sorry to the subjects of my fictional kingdom; hope you don't have any national emergencies after the sun sets!
Fun fact: if you want to become a public menace in five seconds or less, start eating strawberries and chocolate in shared work bathroom stall in direct view of your coworkers and their full bladders! And if you really want to become one ... well. Do this.
While sources have not confirmed that the Queen ever pops mini bottles of champagne in her office bathroom in a pair of ill-fitting pajamas, The Independent reports that she does enjoy a glass of champagne before bed, and that for dessert she is partial to strawberries and chocolate. After a long and exhausting day of both being a Bustle editor and concerning myself with the welfare of the citizens of my fake empire, this treat well-deserved indeed.
Oh, my god, you guys. Either sources are not entirely accurate re: Queen Elizabeth II's alcohol intake, or she goes way harder than the rest of us. Between the gin and the champagne, I spent about 50 percent of my work day with a semi-drunken internal thought pattern that alternated between "Should I buy a pony??", "What is my purpose on this earth?" and "ASGJLLJAGSLFGK". I am forced to admit that despite my Millennial upbringing I simply do not have the ability to ball as hard as the actual Queen does.
What was more striking than my accidental midday tipsiness is that despite the opulence surrounding her and the power of her position, Queen Elizabeth II generally approaches mealtime the same way she approaches most things — in a practical, almost unglamorous way. She spends most of her time working. She chills with horses and dogs. In similar fashion, she tends to eat the same meals every day, and stick to the same favorites whenever she deviates. For someone with way more at her disposal than most of us can dream of, she leads a rather modest life — not at all what you imagine when you hear the word "queen".
This isn't anything new; the Queen has always treated life in the public eye with this kind of self-awareness, from the ration coupons she used to pay for her wedding dress after WWII, to her dedication to the conservation of food and supplies in the palace, to the prolific amount of charity work she has spearheaded. So while I embarked on this experiment thinking I might get to soak in some of that ~glamor~ of being someone whose face has been immortalized on money and chocolate and tea biscuit boxes, what I really got was a healthy dose of respected for the Queen and how she conducts her life — that, and perhaps a wee bit of a hangover on my way home from work.