The Food At Buckingham Palace, And Why Did Edward VII

I’ve watched through Season 2, Episode I of The Crown. Twice the food at Buckingham Palace has been described unfavorably, once by Margaret who told a crowd it was “ordinary,” and once by Edward VII, who in a flashback scene told his brother that the food there was “disgusting” (I believe).

Considering that the best chefs in the world would be more than honored to work for the RF, and considering they had access to the best ingredients in the world, I find this hard to believe. Are the Windsors a family of particularly delicate taste buds, or does the Palace run its food distribution in a way that cuts corners?

Also, why did Edward hate Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon so much? In The Crown he called her “common” and wouldn’t be in the same room with her. She was born into nobility, and Edward’s own love was born into considerably humbler circumstances.

I assume the direction the storyline wants to go is playing off his playboy and cosmopolitan image – that is, if anybody would know better, then it would be him. Could this be where the “English food as bland”-meme came from?

I’m going to assume any real friction with his wife is also poetic license – there was political strain, at the time, with her nationality and European territory, but that’s not their problem.

I’m confused. Is the OP about Edward VIII, the one who abdicated, and his sister-in-law, the late Queen Mum? I haven’t watched The Crown but considering the time period covered I think it must be.

If so, then Arkcon meant “his brother’s wife,” or s/he was also confused. I can’t make sense out of the second paragraph of that post at all. There was hardly anyone with a more British background than she had.

Just as a matter of (probably no) interest, a possible distant relative of mine was married into the Bowes-Lyon family for a while, and one of their offspring with the same last name as mine was listed as a distant heir to the throne at one point.

OK, so with, Roderick Femm:'s help, and a quick Google, I see that *The Crown * is not about Edward VII, so much of what I posted was nonsense. I though something was off – Margret, Winsor, Buckingham Palace, Bowes-Lyon didn’t fit.

Edward VIII
Edward VII

Anybody who’s not royalty is a commoner to the royal family, even if they’re of the nobility. The Duke of Windsor (Edward VIII) never got along with his sister-in-law, who would blame him for her husband’s early death. She believed the stress of being king played a part.
Also, the Duchess of Windsor and Elizabeth Bowes Lyon REALLY couldn’t stand each other. The latter (aka the “Queen Mum”) was more discrete about it, but Wallis Simpson used to go around mocking her as well as Elizabeth II. So he was pretty much following his wife’s attitude towards her. (Why he called her common when despite her social standing being superior to his wife’s? Well, 1.) it’s televison and 2.) Edward was a jerk and a hypocrite. THAT part they got right.)

Some of it was petty, some of it wasn’t.

Edward VIII’s tastes in most things were usually more than anything a reaction to those of his parents. Neither George V nor Queen Mary had much of a reputation for liking fine dining, which fitted with their willingness to be seen as domestic, not at all fashionable and even rather dull. Which, in turn, was partly a reaction to the tastes of his parents.

But we must be careful of distinguishing image from reality. For one thing, the scriptwriters might be using food merely as dramatic licence to illustrate Edward VIII’s rebellion against his parents. It may be no more than the sort of thing that he might well have thought. In any case, it wasn’t that George V didn’t employ top-class chefs and objectively his meals probably were being produced to a very high standard. So if his son did complain about the meals, it may just have been him exaggerating for effect. For what it’s worth, one thing that Edward did do as king was to slash the Palace’s catering budget, although in exile he and the Duchess of Windsor did have a reputation for serving excellent meals.

Similar arguments apply to Princess Margaret. The trope of her as being more fashionable than either her parents or her sister was one that she herself was happy to encourage.

My impression is that Edward VIII got on reasonably well with his sister-in-law before 1937. Disentangling his subsequent hostility towards from what she may actually have done is still rather difficult. She had clearly disapproved of Mrs Simpson and doubtless did believe that he had let them all down. But his much-aired belief that she was the real power behind his brother was perhaps just a bit too convenient.

As you say, the idea that the Queen Mother was ever ‘common’ doesn’t make much sense. It is true that she had been rather unusual among royal brides in being non-royal, but there was a general recognition that the British Royal Family would have to look beyond the diminished ranks of European royalty for marriage partners and the Duke of York had not been the first child of George V to do so. Edward VIII probably did think that the Yorks were domestic, not at all fashionable and rather dull. But, as I say, that had been true of his own parents.

I have always assumed that Mrs Simpson’s nickname of ‘Cookie’ for her was mostly a reference to her weight and that it was deliberately offensive precisely because the Duchess of York was actually the daughter of an earl.

British food in the early half of the 20th century was generally not great. I suspect that people who lived in great houses like Buckingham Palace rarely got a hot meal. One thing that strikes you when you tour one is just how far it is from kitchen to dining room, especially when it is a formal occasion.

British aristocrats enjoyed a great many things back then, but fine dining was not one of them. I wager that the best meal of the day would be breakfast, served in the bedroom.

I remember reading a biography written by someone who worked in a kitchen where she said that the staff generally ate a good deal better than the ‘family’.

Bear in mind that The Crown is fiction, not footnoted academic history.

I think the point above about Edward VIII rebellibg against everything stuffy and conventional in his parents’ lifestyle is probably spot on. It wouldn’t surprise me if George V’s normal choice of food for himself and the family was old-fashioned nursery stodge, whatever the chefs might come up with for state occasions (and Queen Mary was, by his standards, well educated in broader European culture).

As for Elizabeth, she made no secret of her disdain for Mrs. Simpson and had put her down quite brutally when they met. I rather think Elizabeth’s own family and similar aristocrats might have thought on the quiet that she had in any case slightly married down, and in return Edward would have seen her as another example of the stultifying world he was trying to escape.

ISTR that Prince Albert had to labor quite mightily to get proper food, heating, etc. for himself and Victoria back in their early days. I do not recall if the problem was Parliament being miserly or the castle staff procedures being outmoded, but it’s possible that some of these sorts of problems with maintenance of the royals persisted into the 20th century.