Princess Margaret's 'simple tastes' revealed

Publié le par The Guardian

The Guardianpublished 26/04/2013 at 08:04 BST

Princess 'not fond of caviar or oysters' and 'happy to watch football or cricket', according to archive documents

Princess Margaret in 1951

Princess Margaret in 1951: she would rather drink wine than champagne, according to previously secret colonial era documents. Photograph: PA


Princess Margaret was one of the most glamorous figures on the world stage in the 1950s, but according to previously secret documents released on Friday she had more modest tastes when it came to food and drink.

Before a visit by Margaret to Mauritius in 1956, the island's governor was told that the princess preferred "simple" meals, was "not fond of either caviar or oysters", and would rather drink wine than champagne.

But that did not mean planning Margaret's tour of the island was straightforward. Sir Martin Gilliat, the Queen Mother's private secretary, sent several messages that stated a wide range of Margaret's preferences before her visit.

Intimate details of the royal family's dining habits are usually kept secret, but a file containing dozens of letters outlining Margaret's likes and dislikes was among a batch of colonial-era documents released by the National Archives.

According to the letters from Clarence House, the Queen's younger sister did "not like motorcycle escorts", and would only accept gifts of books from authors who were "of reputable character".

Sir Robert Scott, governor of Mauritius, was also told: "Her Royal Highness does not play tennis or golf, but she is keen on riding. Princess Margaret enjoys racing, and is happy to watch football or cricket for a reasonable length of time."

On the issue of food, Clarence House officials wrote: "Princess Margaret prefers meals to be as simple as possible and not to last too long. Three or four courses (including cheese or fruit) for lunch, and five for dinner are quite sufficient."

Gilliat informed Scott: "As far as food is concerned Her Royal Highness has very catholic tastes but is not fond of either caviar or oysters."

He added that she enjoyed drinking gin and tonic, whiskey and soda, and would rather have a glass of red or white wine than champagne.

According to the documents, it appears the careful planning paid off, as a message from Gilliat to Scott stated: "I am writing at the bidding of Princess Margaret to convey to you Her Royal Highness' very real pleasure at the wonderful arrangements which were made for her visit to Mauritius."

It is not the first time that the royals' dining preferences have been revealed. Many of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh's breakfast habits – including how their cornflakes and porridge oats are kept in Tupperware boxes – were revealed by an undercover expose by the Daily Mirror in 2003.

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