For the two young boys, it seemed the perfect ruse. They would swap the note asking for roast chicken to be cooked for their dinner with replacement instructions to serve up their favourite treat – a rather less wholesome pizza.
For the co-conspirators were Prince William and Prince Harry, as former Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace chef Darren McGrady has revealed in a new interview about the eating habits of the royal juniors ahead of the next birth in the household.
Traditional British fare was the staple at Kensington Palace when the two boys were growing up. But Mr McGrady told People magazine that while the young princes also enjoyed typical “kid food” too.
And he recalled one time when they tried to ensure their cravings were satisfied by swapping their nanny’s note to him with one requesting pizza as their dinner.
The child’s handwriting undermined them, however. And noting that he “was more scared of the nanny than I was of William”, the chef duly ended up cooking up her original request of roast chicken.
Mr McGrady, the author of the cookbook Eating Royally who now runs a professional chef service in Plano, Texas, told the magazine that young royals are just like any other children when it comes to their taste buds.
He spent 11 years cooking at Buckingham Palace before moving to Kensington Palace in 1992 to be the chef for the Princess of Wales and her two boys for four years after her split with Prince Charles.
“I remember holding the boys as babies, when the Princess was eating cereal in the kitchen, thinking, ‘Wow, here I am, literally holding the crown jewels’,” he said.
When Prince William and Prince Harry visited their grandmother at Buckingham Palace as toddlers the boys would often be served a pureed or diced version of what was on the menu for the adults.
As as they grew older, it was their nanny who chose the children’s meals from a list of options sent daily from the kitchens. A butler would bring the food up the living quarters to be served to the children.
Most meals would consist of “traditional, English food”, whether they were staying at Buckingham or Kensington palaces. Their favourites included cottage pie and peas – of which Prince William was particularly fond – poached chicken and rice and fish cakes.
“Everything a normal British child would have,” said Mr McGrady. “The only difference is that they had a chef cooking it for them.”
Their favourite sweets included jam roly-poly, he added, noting: “You don’t get much more quintessentially British comfort food than that. Each time, I’d send up six pieces, and each of them would go.”
They were also big fans of puddings. Popular options included summer pudding and sticky toffee pudding, also known to be a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge.
When William and Harry were joined by their cousins, such as Zara and Peter Phillips or Prince Andrew’s daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, it was royal seniority that dictated what they children would eat.
While the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are known for their relaxed modern parenting style, Mr McGrady said he doubted that they would be preparing all the meals for Prince George and his new sibling..
He expected that they would keep staff to a minimum – perhaps just nanny Maria Borrallo and a chef. What is not clear is whether Ms Borrallo will be more amenable to the occasional pizza party than her predecessors.