One’s jolly busy day

She has an 8am bath pre­cisely 7in deep. Philip has his own bar­ber shop down the cor­ri­dor. And wise staff NEVER dis­turb her dur­ing her post-lunch stroll. Minute by minute, a cap­ti­vat­ing glimpse into . . .

Daily Mail - - Comment - by Brian Hoey

THE TIME is 7.30am and Buck­ing­ham Palace is start­ing to stir. The po­lice sergeant sit­ting out­side the Queen’s bed­room is ap­proach­ing the end of his overnight shift.

He used to go off duty at 6.30 — but af­ter an in­truder en­tered the bed­room at about seven one morn­ing in 1982, when no one was on guard, the ex­tra hour was added.

Her Majesty’s per­sonal maid walks to­wards him car­ry­ing the ‘morn­ing tray’ for her royal mis­tress.

On it are pots of Earl Grey tea and hot wa­ter, both in solid sil­ver, cold milk but no sugar. The cup and saucer are bone china and there is also a fine linen nap­kin draped across the tray em­bossed with the royal cypher E II R.

The maid gives a light tap on the door, which bears the name ‘The Queen’ on a white card in a plain brass holder.

Prince Philip’s set of rooms, just a few yards along the cor­ri­dor, are work­man­like and func­tional, com­plete with a well-equipped bar­ber­shop that fea­tures a padded and fully ad­justable bar­ber­shop chair, wash basin and a ma­chine for heated tow­els.

One of Lon­don’s lead­ing bar­bers comes in once a week to trim the royal locks, though the Duke prefers to shave him­self.

But, since his re­tire­ment from pub­lic du­ties, he spends most of his time these days at Wood Farm on the San­dring­ham Es­tate in Nor­folk. So the Queen usu­ally spends her work­ing week alone in Lon­don.

The maid en­ters the Queen’s bed­room and walks qui­etly across to the bed­side ta­ble with its fam­ily pho­to­graphs and tele­phone, com­plete with ‘panic but­ton’ — the one which was spec­tac­u­larly ig­nored on that morn­ing when in­truder Michael Fa­gan be­came the only man, apart from her hus­band, to see the Queen asleep in bed.

The colour scheme of the room is pale green, the Queen’ s favourite shade. HER

maid switches on the Roberts ra­dio which is tuned to BBC Ra­dio 4, as the Queen likes to wake up to the sound of John Humphrys and his col­leagues grilling un­for­tu­nate politi­cians on the To­day pro­gramme.

Then, while Her Majesty is en­joy­ing her first cup of tea, her maid will go into the ad­join­ing bath­room to draw the bath, which has to be ex­actly the right tem­per­a­ture: tested with a wooden-cased ther­mome­ter, and no more than seven inches of wa­ter.

While the Queen is in her bath, one of her three dressers, un­der the su­per­vi­sion of An­gela Kelly, the Queen’s Per­sonal As­sis­tant and Cu­ra­tor of her Wardrobe, lays out the first out­fit of the day in the ad­ja­cent dress­ing room with its floor-to- ceil­ing mir­rors and walk-in wardrobes.

Mrs Kelly knows ex­actly what is needed, as she is given the Queen’s daily pro­gramme the evening be­fore. Depend­ing on the day’s en­gage­ments, the Queen may have to change as many as five times, but she rarely makes her own choice; that is what she pays her dressers to do, she says.

Once the Queen has dressed, her hair­dresser brushes and ar­ranges her hair in the style that hasn’t changed in decades.

Break­fast is served promptly at 8.30 in the Queen’s own pri­vate din­ing room. A foot­man has brought the food to a hot-plate — a sil­ver ‘muf­fin dish’ with the food on top and hot wa­ter un­der­neath — and then he leaves the room so the Queen can eat in peace.

Mean­while, a lone piper from one of the Scot­tish reg­i­ments pre­pares to march up and down on the ter­race be­low.

The Queen loves the mu­sic of the bag­pipes and every morn­ing she lis­tens to some of her favourite tunes.

By 9.30, the Queen will be at her desk in her sit­ting room cum of­fice, ready for two solid hours of pa­per­work. The room is com­fort­able rather than lux­u­ri­ous, with arm­chairs and so­fas up­hol­stered in coun­try-house- style chintz. The desk is Chip­pen­dale and the Queen brought it with her when she moved from Clarence House in 1952. A heavy crys­tal dou­ble inkwell con­tains the black ink the Queen uses to sign of­fi­cial doc­u­ments and the spe­cial green colour she likes for per­sonal let­ters. She rarely uses a ball­point pen, in­sist­ing on her favourite old foun­tain pen.

There’s also a pris­tine sheet of blot­ting pa­per, re­placed every day and black in colour so no one can read what she has writ­ten by hold­ing it up to a mir­ror.

This is very much a work­ing desk. As a for­mer Page says: ‘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.’

Her press sec­re­tary will have pre­pared a di­gest of the day’s news from the early morn­ing ra­dio

and tele­vi­sion bul­letins. Once she has read this and any other pa­pers, she presses a but­ton on the con­sole in front of her.

The first per­son she calls is her pri­vate sec­re­tary. He is wait­ing in his of­fice on the ground floor and when he hears the words, ‘would you like to come up?’ he knows it’s time to start the day’s work. Car­ry­ing a small wicker bas­ket con­tain­ing the doc­u­ments the Queen has to read and ini­tial, he en­ters the room, gives a brief neck bow and says: ‘Your Majesty.’ There­after, he ad­dresses her as ‘Ma’am’.

The Queen’s mail­box nor­mally runs to scores of items every day, so she has mas­tered the knack of ‘scan­ning’ or speed-reading.

If guests are ex­pected at the Palace, the house­keeper is sum­moned so that do­mes­tic ar­range­ments for their com­fort can be dis­cussed.

Later in the morn­ing, the duty lady-in-wait­ing is called to the sit­ting room. The Queen shows her some of the let­ters she has re­ceived which require a per­sonal re­ply. Those from chil­dren and the el­derly get spe­cial at­ten­tion and the lady- in- wait­ing writes the let­ters and signs them on be­half of the Queen.

Per­sonal friends who write to Her Majesty put their ini­tials in the lower left- hand cor­ner of the en­ve­lope and, when the staff see these, they know not to open them, for the Queen likes to open her per­sonal mail her­self.

Of­fi­cial guests, such as in­com­ing or out­go­ing for­eign emis­saries coming to present their cre­den­tials or take their leave, have an au­di­ence at noon. This takes place in the Au­di­ence Room, also part of the Queen’s suite, and lasts for around ten min­utes.

Lunch is usu­ally eaten alone, un­less one of her four chil­dren is in the Palace. Prince An­drew some­times joins his mother af­ter be­ing in­vited for­mally through the Queen’s Page. Her Majesty prefers light meals, but al­though the dishes may be sim­ple they are su­perbly pre­sented — every sprout, car­rot or potato ex­actly match­ing its neigh­bour in shape and size. And dur­ing the day she doesn’t drink al­co­hol, stick­ing in­stead to her favourite still Malvern wa­ter.

The royal chef also sends a list to Her Majesty’s Page, con­tain­ing three sug­ges­tions for every meal dur­ing the coming week. It is re­turned when she has in­di­cated what she wants.

And all menus con­tinue to be writ­ten in French, hav­ing been the of­fi­cial lan­guage at Court since Queen Vic­to­ria’s reign, when her French head chef in­sisted on French cui­sine and the menus hand­writ­ten in that lan­guage.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter lunch, the Queen likes to walk in the gar­dens. House­hold staff know to keep well out of the way at this time: she doesn’t wel­come com­pany or want to see any­one else in the gar­dens.

Then she re­laxes for half an hour with the Sport­ing Life and Rac­ing Post, the ‘ bibles’ of the rac­ing fra­ter­nity. If she is at the Palace in the morn­ing and there are en­gage­ments in the af­ter­noon, they will be in the Lon­don area. When the Queen is ready to leave for them, her Page phones her per­sonal po­lice of­fi­cer, in his of­fice on the ground floor, to warn him to be wait­ing at the Gar­den Door with the car door open.

As Her Majesty walks down­stairs — she only oc­ca­sion­ally uses the an­cient lift — a small knot of peo­ple ma­te­ri­alises and wait to see her off. These are her pri­vate sec­re­tary and sev­eral of the house­hold. They will also be there when she re­turns.

All af­ter­noon en­gage­ments are sched­uled to fin­ish be­fore 4.30 so that the Queen can be back at the Palace in time for tea at five.

It’s an im­mov­able feast and the meal she en­joys the most: tiny sand­wiches with­out crusts, cut to a pre­cise size, warm scones with cream and straw­berry jam and, al­ways, her favourite Dundee fruit cake. The rit­ual never changes and nei­ther does the fare. AF­TeR tea, Her Majesty re­turns to her of­fice for an­other hour. If there is no evening en­gage­ment, the Queen re­tires to her own rooms just af­ter six to rest be­fore din­ner. The ex­cep­tion is Tues­day evening, when the Prime Min­is­ter ar­rives for their weekly au­di­ence at 6.30. It used to be an hour ear­lier, but when Prince Charles and Princess Anne were chil­dren, the Queen liked to spend that time with them, so she changed the ap­point­ment to half past six — and it has re­mained so ever since. As the meet­ing is of­fi­cial, it takes place in the Au­di­ence Room, on the north- west cor­ner of the Palace between the Royal Closet and the Queen’s din­ing room, and lasts for no more than half an hour. Din­ner for the Queen is the most re­laxed meal of the day, some­times eaten off a tray. She likes to re­main in her pri­vate quar­ters, reading or watch­ing tele­vi­sion in the sit­ting room next door to her of­fice. Fre­quently, she spends part of the evening work­ing on her ‘boxes’ — the of­fi­cial dis­patch cases which con­tain cor­re­spon­dence from govern­ment de­part­ments in the United King­dom and the Com­mon­wealth. every evening, a re­port on the day’s pro­ceed­ings in Par­lia­ment is de­liv­ered to her, writ­ten by the Vice- Cham­ber­lain of the House­hold, a se­nior MP, and is in­vari­ably read by the Queen be­fore she re­tires. Her Majesty is not a late-night per­son: she is usu­ally tucked in by 11pm, but likes to read in bed. Her favourite re­lax­ation is to read the lat­est Dick Fran­cis rac­ing novel and she is sent the first copy of every first edition, al­ways in hard back. The tra­di­tion con­tin­ues now that Dick’s son Felix has taken over writ­ing his fa­ther’s best­sellers. So, of­ten, the last lights seen shin­ing out of the north side of the Palace are those in her rooms. They are easy to iden­tify; they are the only ones with bow win­dows, over­look­ing Con­sti­tu­tion Hill. And to­mor­row, she will do it all again.

It’s busi­ness as usual: The Queen with one of her many dis­patch boxes. In­set: She wakes to a cup of Earl Grey tea and re­laxes for 30 min­utes in the af­ter­noon reading the Rac­ing Post

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