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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Jennifer Newton

Queen's surprisingly ordinary life - frugal habit, love of chores and cheap gifts

The Queen's majestic state funeral was a fitting send off for a monarch who had dedicated 70 years of her life to serving the country. and Commonwealth.

It saw her coffin taken on several processions in London and Windsor accompanied by the military, thousands of guests from around the world pay their respects and centuries-old traditions and customs take place. But despite the huge, well-deserved goodbye, behind palace walls, the Queen actually lived a surprisingly ordinary and sometimes simple life. She might lived in palaces and castles and had staff on hand at all times but the things she often got up to in between royal duties were often not that different to the everyday person....

Thrifty habits

The Queen often led a surprisingly normal life (Getty Images)

She may have been able to afford most things her heart desired, but most of the time, it seems that the Queen was surprisingly frugal.

In 2011, it was reported that she would often go around her residences switching off lights in rooms that were not in use in order to cut down on her power bills. It was said that she also encouraged her staff to get behind the practice in order to save cash.

Meanwhile, in a rare photo taken of her meeting then Prime Minister David Cameron at her Balmoral estate, it emerged she kept the chill of the fresh Scottish air by using a £20 electric heater in one of the rooms.

And when it came to giving gifts, there would be no ripping off the wrapping paper - that's because Her Majesty liked to recycle it.

Royal biographer Kate Williams once said: ""After Christmas, Elizabeth would collect up the wrapping paper and ribbons and would smooth them out to be saved."

Love of chores

The Queen (right) helps with the washing up during a Girl Guides camp in Windsor in 1944 (Popperfoto via Getty Images)

For most people, having staff would mean never having to do any chores around the house such as dusting, washing or ironing.

But it seems the Queen liked nothing more than to get stuck in with the washing up - especially when she was at Balmoral.

Dickie Arbiter, who worked closely with the Queen for many years as her Press Secretary, recalled an unforgettable day when he was invited to a small private lunch with the late Monarch and her husband, Prince Philip, which ended up with the two of them cleaning dishes in the kitchen sink afterwards.

Speaking to True Royalty TV, he explained that as the least senior person at the table he nipped off to the kitchen when they finished to start clearing up when he heard footsteps and a "very familiar voice" behind him.

The Queen often loved to do chores (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

He explained: "And at the end of it, the Queen said, ‘we've got to clear up’ and I took it as my cue as the junior flunky to do the washing up. So I went into the kitchen and started washing up. I heard this footfall behind me and assumed it was the lady-in-waiting coming to give me a hand.

"I said over my shoulder without even turning, ‘okay, I'll wash you dry’. This very familiar voice behind me said, ‘no I’ll wash, you dry!. It was the Queen. So she plunged her hands into the fairy liquid - no gloves - and I did the drying up. It was quite an experience to actually do a bit of domesticity with a head of state."

TV time

When work and other responsibilities are firming done for the day, there's nothing more most people like than settling down on the sofa and catching up on some TV. And it appears that the Queen was no exception to this.

In a piece for The New Statesman, journalist Phil Jones claims that back in 2001 the Queen told him all about her favourite show during a visit to Buckingham Palace.

He claims he'd kept their conversation a secret for 21 years as he'd previously been told that journalists shouldn't reveal their discussions with the monarch.

The show in question? The Kumars at No. 42. He claims Her Majesty was such a big fan of the programme that she could even "recite some of the one-liners" from it.

Ordinary diet

She may have had chefs on hand to whip her up anything her heart desired - but the Queen seemingly preferred to have a normal, ordinary diet.

Former royal chef Darren McGrady said she liked only liked fruit that was in season and that one of her tea time favourite treats was simple jam sandwiches cut into circles called jam pennies.

When it came to breakfast, her cereal of choice was reportedly Special K, which she kept in plastic tubs in order to keep the the flakes as fresh as possible.

Cosy furniture

The Queen in her Balmoral drawing room earlier this month (Getty Images)

While the Queen's many homes were filled with historic furniture and priceless pieces of art - she did also fill them with personal touches to make them cosy.

One of her home she did this at was at Balmoral, her beloved Scottish Highlands retreat, where she died just under two weeks ago.

In the last photo of her, released before she died, the Queen was seen meeting her 15th and final Prime Minister Liz Truss in Balmoral Castle's drawing room.

Personal touches in the room included mint green sofas, previously seen in a photo of the Queen and her great-grandchildren and autumnal flowers.

In a 2017 picture of her study at Balmoral, it showed her vast bookcases, her favourite leather chair and a £20 electric heater to take the edge off the chilly Scottish air.

Cheap gifts

You may be fooled into thinking that the royals exchange expensive and elaborate gifts with each other for Christmas. But thanks to the Queen - that is not the case.

The family exchange their presents on Christmas Eve and there is reportedly one rule made by the Queen when it comes to presents - the cheaper and cheekier the better.

This meant that one year Meghan Markle bought the late monarch a singing toy hamster, while Prince Harry also got her several memorable presents over the years.

According to the biography Finding Freedom, one year he bought her a shower cap with the phrase "ain't life a b****' on it.

The book added: "Another time, he gifted his grandmother a Big Mouth Billy Bass singing toy that was said to sit proudly in Balmoral."

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