The only match for Her Majesty’s busy schedule is that of The Duke of Edinburgh. Pope Benedict XVI who is a year younger than The Queen decided to turn in his papal robe and become a pensioner. Queen Beatrix of Holland, a spry 75-year-old, decided she wanted to retire and abdicated last year also. Although the major Royals have stepped in and have taken on more engagements and travel, there seems to be no sign of retirement for Her Majesty.
During the Diamond Jubilee celebration, The Queen participated in 425 engagements, more than the 370 in 2011. “There doesn’t seem to be any sign of her cutting back at present,” Author Sarah Bradford writes in Queen Elizabeth II-Her Life in Our Times. The Queen believes in the oath she took over six decades ago. Bradford wrote, “But the thing is, she’s the Queen, she does what she wants to do.” One does not foresee too much of a change in her daily schedule.
Her Majesty participated in 425 engagements during last year’s Diamond Jubilee celebration.
Many would believe the summers at Balmoral and the winter holiday at Sandringham are cause for Her Majesty to relax and leave the royal engagements and duties to others. Although, not as intense as the rest of the year, Her Majesty does still have duties and events to attend to.
Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh are required to oversee the management of both the Balmoral and Sandringham estates. This includes dealing with the tenant farmers as well as employees. Her Majesty is also briefed daily on the goings on at Parliament as well as other pertinent issues of importance. She does have a limited handful of days where nothing is scheduled, and therefore she may relax.
So what is it like to be Her Majesty for a day? Let’s take a look at her schedule from morning until evening.
Her Majesty “likes Cornflakes or Special K, with a spoonful or two of apricots, prunes or some macadamia nuts from a Tupperware box, or, when at Balmoral, woodland strawberries. Sometimes she will have a boiled egg, or just toast and marmalade, with Darjeeling tea,” former royal chef Darren McGrady stated in a 31 May 2012 interview in The Telegraph. Her Majesty eats breakfast by herself at 9am - the Duke of Edinburgh is an early riser and dines at 8:30 am.
After breakfast, Her Majesty briefly reads the morning’s newspapers before starting to read her correspondence. “Everyday 200-300 (and sometimes maybe more) letters from the public arrive. The Queen chooses a selection to read herself and tells members of the staff how she would like them to respond,” according to the Official Website of the British Monarchy.
After going through the correspondence, Her Majesty will meet with two of her private secretaries to review the official papers. Official Papers may be State Papers, documents from Parliament, Policy Papers, and other items that require Her Majesty to view. The infamous red boxes contain the papers for Her Majesty to read and, sometimes, approve and sign.
The Queen and Prince Phillip meet President and Mrs. Obama.
Further into the Queen’s morning, she may have an audience with, for example, Ambassadors, Bishops, Clergy or senior members of the Commonwealth’s Armed Forces. The Queen at this time might also meet with individuals who have won awards or commendations in various fields ranging from the arts to sciences. Her Majesty also presents these individuals with their awards during this audience. An audience with The Queen usually lasts no more than 20 minutes.
On days of an Investiture, the ceremony begins promptly at 11 a.m. and lasts around an hour or so. The Investiture is when the Queen presents medals, decorations and orders. “The Queen usually meets around 100 people at each Investiture,” according to the Official Website of the British Monarchy.
Lunch is usually private. Upon certain occasions, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will hold a luncheon for a dozen or so guests which is informal. “A typical lunch, served at 1 pm, would be fish, such as a grilled Dover sole, on a bed of wilted spinach or with courgettes,” former Chef McGrady told The Telegraph. If the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are away on engagements, they will have lunch “with a wide variety of people in places ranging from town halls to hospitals,” according to the Official Website of the British Monarchy.
Her Majesty’s afternoons are usually filled with attending public engagements. Much behind-the-scenes work goes into scheduling such visits. The Queen is keen on reading up on the background of the people she will be meeting as well as what she will see and take part in on her visits. The Royal engagements are all chosen by The Queen from an immense number of requests she receives each year. “The Queen carries out around 430 engagements (including audiences) a year, to meet people, open events and buildings, unveil plaques and make speeches,” according to the Official Website of the British Monarchy.
Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh on a walkabout.
On certain instances, The Queen (sometimes with The Duke of Edinburgh) will travel to a city or region, spending the entire day there. Engagements that take place outside of London require the use of a helicopter. If the trip is more than a day or perhaps proves to be rather hectic, The Queen will travel on the Royal Train.
Of course, in the afternoon, there is tea. Her Majesty’s “favourite cakes were honey and cream sponge, ginger, fruit and the chocolate biscuit cake that Prince William also chose to be served at his wedding reception,” Chef McGrady revealed in The Telegraph. “At least two varieties of sandwich were offered, such as cucumber, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise, ham and mustard. The crusts cut off. She also had her favourite jam pennies, tiny raspberry jam sandwiches cut into circles the size of an old English penny and washed down with Earl Grey tea,” according to The Telegraph.
One may think after a busy morning and afternoon, The Queen has the evening to herself. Not so. Her Majesty’s day is not over post afternoon engagements.
The Queen conducts a weekly audience with the Prime Minister when both are in London. This audience occurs at Buckingham Palace on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. and is private. No one knows what transpires behind closed doors, and it has been this way since The Queen began meeting with her first Prime Minster, Winston Churchill.
Around 7:30 p.m. each weekday, The Queen will receive a daily narrative on the proceedings of Parliament. Her Majesty reads through the report every evening without fail.
There are some evenings The Queen may attend a concert or reception for one of the 621 charities or patronages Her Majesty is involved in. The evening also is time when The Queen and members of the Royal Family hold official receptions at Buckingham Palace such as state dinners. Receptions are not limited to Buckingham Palace though. The Queen does host official engagements at Windsor Castle and The Pace of Holyroodhouse as well.
Her Majesty addressing the crowd at Royal Ascot
Although The Queen’s schedule is filled with engagements, she still does find some time to enjoy her passion - horses. An ardent owner and breeder of racehorses, Her Majesty attends the Royal Ascot Race and The Epsom Derby in June. Her Majesty attends other races if the schedule allows.
Since her 21st birthday Cape Town broadcast in which she stated,
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great Imperial country to which we all belong… God help me to make good my vow and God bless all of you who are willing to share it,”
she has not stopped to focus on anything beside her duty to crown and country.
There is a quote that sums Her Majesty’s day the best,
“Our Queen is the most dutiful monarch in 1,000 years. Late tonight if you stroll down the Mall, think about the Queen, whose light is often the last to go out at Buckingham Palace as she finishes off her red boxes. Surely she should be allowed an earlier bedtime,”
according to Harry Mount in the 13 March 2013 article in The Telegraph.