On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
With a reign that started in February 1952, Queen Elizabeth II is currently the longest-serving female head of state in world history, as well as the world’s oldest living monarch at 94 years old. And yet, she’s as busy as ever, maintaining a full daily schedule, still taking care of a range of public duties as she has for the past 8 decades.
On a typical day, the Queen is up at 7.30am. But there’s no alarm in the royal bedroom, instead one of her maids knocks on her door, and brings in a pot of Earl Grey tea. To help her get ready in the morning, the Queen has three dressers — overseen by Angela Kelly, who goes by the title of Personal Assistant and Curator of her Wardrobe — prepare several outfits for the day, depending on how many engagements the Queen is planning to attend.
“She is not ‘my’ Queen, she is everyone’s and so I have to share her,” Kelly once said in an interview. “Once she has chosen something to wear, I just want her to look good in it. I love seeing the faces of the public when they meet the Queen, and when she gives them that special smile. It makes me feel so proud of her.”
Breakfast is usually at 8.30am — Darren McGrady, the former royal chef, wrote in his book, Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen, that she prefers cereal first thing in the morning, followed by more tea and some biscuits.
After breakfast, the Queen heads to her Chippendale desk where she begins her day’s work. She starts off with responding with fan mail — she gets around 300 letters a day from the public and will answer a few personally, while her staff deals with the rest.
She’ll then move onto dealing with her daily red box, containing important government documents and legislation that need her review. The Queen receives a red box every day of the year, except on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. She’ll also go through a digest of the day’s news, prepared by her press secretary, and then attend private meetings with a number of guests — ranging from British bishops to foreign ambassadors.
At 12.30, she’ll take a break to walk her dogs around the grounds and then have lunch — typically “grilled fish with courgettes or spinach” according to McGrady. “She also enjoyed eating low-carb grilled chicken with salad.”
When it comes to her fitness routine, the Queen prefers low-intensity exercises such as long walks. According to biographer, Christopher Andersen, “she relies on her daily walks and horseback rides, not because they have kept her muscles strengthened over the years (which they certainly have) but because they are her principal alone time.” The Queen is “a great believer in sensible exercise,” added biographer Ingrid Seward.
The Queen will usually spend her afternoons at royal engagements, meeting with the prime minister and reading a report of the day’s parliamentary proceedings. She’ll have another break at 5pm, where she’ll be served high tea in her place suite — “Earl Grey tea, salmon, cucumber, ham as well as egg mayonnaise sandwiches (crusts removed, of course), along with scones and her favorite “jam pennies” — sandwiches cut into circles the size of an old English penny,” according Us Weekly.
Dinner is served at 7.30pm. McGrady said the Queen prefers to have a low-carb meal at night, avoiding starch ingredients like potatoes, pasta and rice, opting for “game or fish from the Sandringham House estate in Norfolk, or venison or salmon from Balmoral in Scotland.”
To unwind from her day, the Queen enjoys writing in her diary — a practice she’s kept since the start of her reign — as well as watching several popular TV shows like Downton Abbey, X-Factor, Eastenders and Coronation Street. She’s also a big fan of the Dick Francis racing novels, reading them to relax before going to sleep at 11pm.
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