14 of Queen Elizabeth II’s Secret Guilty Pleasures

We've all got guilty pleasures—and the Queen is no exception.

1 / 14
Royal Windsor Horse Show, London, United Kingdom - 11 May 2018
Neil Hall/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Betting on ponies

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II “rakes in” an “astonishing amount of cash” each and every year from horse racing, according to Travel + Leisure. Apparently, she’s pulled in more than $8.8 million in winnings from horse racing prize money over the past three decades alone. Although you won’t find Her Majesty placing bets at the seedy corner shop, you will see her in the stands at Royal Ascot. She’s directly involved with the breeding, raising, and training of the horses. When they win, she wins…and then they win again because she channels her substantial winnings right back into the horses and their trainers.

2 / 14
Pouring red wine in a glass on a wooden table

A four-cocktail-a-day habit?

Lots have been written about Her Majesty’s drinking habits, with some claiming she regularly enjoys four cocktails a day, including:

  • A pre-lunch cocktail made of gin, Dubonnet, a twist of lemon, and lots of ice.
  • A glass of wine with lunch.
  • A dry gin martini (which is basically straight, neat gin and a tiny splash of vermouth), also with lunch.
  • A glass of Champagne before bed.

That said, it appears that no one source has noted her drinking all four of these in any given day, let alone every day. What’s more likely is these are the favourite cocktails of the Queen, and she enjoys them now and then.

Find out which foods the Queen eats every day.

3 / 14

High tea with all the trimmings

We have heard from several different sources that the Queen takes her daily afternoon tea with the complete traditional “high tea spread,” which as described by the BBC, includes sandwiches, scones, cakes, jams, preserves, and sometimes cookies and pastries. Decadent? Perhaps. Delightfully charming? Without question.

Here are the two rules you must follow if you eat dinner with the Queen.

4 / 14
Grilled Foods - Rack of Lamb with Parsley, White Radish and Cherry Tomato
Ryzhkov Photography/Shutterstock

Red meat

Her Majesty has been said to enjoy all kinds of meat, including lamb, roast beef, mutton, grouse, and venison. The one thing they all have in common is she has to have them cooked completely. While rare meat is generally thought to be the “sophisticated” choice, the Queen likes her meat how she likes it, and apparently, that’s cooked to the point where some might say it resembles shoe leather.

Check out the things the Queen actually has the power to do.

5 / 14
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA, JUNE 25, 2017: Bottle of Heinz Ketchup in Restaurant
designs by Jack/Shutterstock

Heinz ketchup

“The Queen is known for having pretty simple tastes,” writes PopSugar about Her Majesty’s apparent penchant for Heinz ketchup, which happens to hold a “royal warrant” (meaning it’s an official supplier to the royal household). Depending on whom you ask, ketchup is either a smooth satisfying slick of umami goodness or the devil in food form. What most people would agree on is that when you put ketchup on steak, you have to expect someone to criticize you. Put it on well-done meat? Well, expect an uproar.

Here are the rules Queen Elizabeth II has broken during her reign.

6 / 14
Close up of dark chocolate pieces on wooden table background.

Dark chocolate

Well, it could be worse. Dark chocolate actually has been scientifically demonstrated to have health benefits. But reportedly, Her Majesty adores dark chocolate, the darker and more decadent the better, according to her former private chef, Darren McGrady, as reported by PureWow.

Don’t miss these vintage photos of Elizabeth before she became Queen.

7 / 14
Queen Elizabeth II drives herself to church, Windsor, UK - 25 Feb 2018

Fast cars

Not long ago, the Telegraph photographed Queen Elizabeth II behind the wheel of a Jaguar sports car, and perhaps ironically enough, she was on her way home from church at the time. But this wasn’t the first time the Queen’s been photographed driving. In fact, she’s been into cars since her teenage days when she served as a mechanic and driver during World War II. Popular Mechanics reports that her ride of choice is a Range Rover. Interestingly, the Queen has never had to take a driving test—or do these five other very ordinary things, for that matter.

8 / 14
'Downton Abbey' on set filming, Bampton, Oxfordshire, Britain - 28 Feb 2013
Joan Wakeham/Shutterstock


The Queen loved watching Downton Abbey, according to Brian Hoey, author of At Home with the Queen, and she especially loved picking out its mistakes. But before you say Downton Abbey is so highbrow that it can’t be called a guilty pleasure, consider that the Queen is also a fan of the long-running truly-guiltily-pleasurable EastEnders. She reportedly watches the soap in her private sitting room atop Buckingham Palace.

Do you miss the upstairs-downstairs drama of Downton as well? Relive the series’ very best moments with this roundup of classic Downton Abbey quotes.

9 / 14
'Britain's Got Talent' TV programme, London, Britain - 15 Jun 2007
Ken McKay/Shutterstock

Reality TV

Embarrassed by your reality TV habit? Well, you’re in good company. Apparently, Queen Elizabeth II is a fan of Britain’s Got Talent. In 2014, Simon Cowell speculated about the Queen’s viewing habits, but in 2017, it appears Prince Harry confirmed to winner Richard Jones that the monarch is indeed a viewer. The Queen has also been known to watch X Factor. According to X Factor contestant Mary Byrne, as reported by Express UK, the Queen admitted in 2011 she never misses an episode. “You are the lady off the X Factor,” the Queen reportedly told Byrne. “Your song was fabulous.”

Here are 13 reasons Queen Elizabeth will never give up the throne.

10 / 14
The Royal family on a Pheasant shoot at Sandringham, Norfolk, Britain - 03 Jan 2009


Like many members of the royal family, Queen Elizabeth considers hunting a fun pastime to enjoy with family and friends. That being said, Her Majesty doesn’t necessarily carry a gun with her. But that doesn’t mean she can’t wrap herself up in a warm coat and gloves and head out into the field, as she was seen doing as recently as January 2019.

Find out which laws Queen Elizabeth doesn’t have to follow.

11 / 14
Beef meat stewed with potatoes, carrots and spices in cast iron pot on burned black wooden background
Lisovskaya Natalia/Shutterstock

And those “shooting lunches”

A very important part of the hunting experience is the lunch that follows, and the Queen takes that part very seriously, according to former royal chef Darren McGrady. McGrady told Today “shooting lunches… always had to be hearty meals,” including lots of stews and mashed potatoes. “Beef bourguignon could be made with beef or with venison off the estate,” he said, although Her Majesty is known to prefer the version with venison.

This is the royal family’s all-time favourite dish.

12 / 14
Britain Royals, London, United Kingdom - 17 Jun 2017

A good game of charades

“To celebrate Yuletide, the royal family is said to enjoy a game of Charades,” according to the Daily Star, and the Queen is a “big fan” of the activity, although “she may be a sore loser if she isn’t victorious.”

This is what Queen Elizabeth gives her staff for Christmas.

13 / 14
Stonehaven Highland Games, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, Britain - 17 Jul 2011
Steve Black/Shutterstock


The Queen is a huge fan of traditional Scottish dancing and throws an annual party at Balmoral, the royal family’s Scottish home, and the place where the Queen is said to be happiest, to celebrate the activity. But that’s not the only dancing in which the Queen partakes. In fact, Her Majesty is known to be an accomplished dancer, to the point where Netflix’s The Crown saw no harm in embellishing the scene where she dances with Ghana’s president, Kwame Nkrumah (which really happened in the early 1960s) so that it appears the dance, itself, informed Ghana’s decision to remain within the British Commonwealth. That’s not quite how it happened in real life, but that’s just one of a number of things The Crown gets wrong.

14 / 14
ABBA Movie Premiere

And when Dancing Queen comes on…

When this old hit by ABBA comes on, the Queen just can’t help herself. It’s the one song that she just has to dance to. “I always try to dance when this song comes on,” she’s reportedly explained, “because I am the Queen, and I like to dance.” Find out 20+ more fascinating facts most people don’t know about the Queen.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest