Our longtime global partnership with Carolyn Robb, formerly then-Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s executive chef for 13 years, has enriched guests’ travels in the UK during special presentations filled with behind-the-scenes stories (and recipes). It’s been one month since the passing of Queen Elizabeth, and we’re honored to share with you Carolyn’s personal, heartfelt reflections.
Wednesday evening (September 7th 2022), during a cheerful Tauck England, Scotland & Wales tour farewell dinner, I talked at length to the group about my former boss, Prince Charles, and why, in the fullness of time, I knew he would make a wonderful King. Less than 24 hours later His Majesty King Charles III ascended to the throne. Even as beautiful flowers are laid in great swathes in every corner of the country, by those paying their respects to our late Queen, it still somehow seems surreal and inconceivable that our one ‘constant’ over the past 70 years, is no longer with us.
During my incredible 13 years as a Royal chef, I was hugely privileged to meet The Queen on many occasions; each one so memorable in its own way. During my first few months at Kensington Palace, when I was cooking for TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and their children, I accompanied them to Windsor Castle, where they were joining the annual Royal Family Christmas gathering. On Christmas morning, (the one day in the year when I had assumed that the Queen would not undertake any ‘duties’) I was surprised to be called to one of the drawing rooms in the castle, along with all the other members of staff who were on duty that day. Her Majesty shook each of us by the hand, said a few words and handed out beautifully wrapped gifts. I was thrilled with the exquisite lavender soap that she kindly gave me, but that paled into insignificance compared to the gift of her time. Her words to me were warm, engaging and humorous and most notably, it was an ‘un-rushed’ conversation, despite there being a room full of people for her to ‘get through’ before she could relax and enjoy the day’s festivities with her family. She commented on the fact that I was working on Christmas day; I wish I had had the presence of mind at the time to ask her if she ever, ever gave herself a ‘day off’.
I think I know what the answer would have been.