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Queen's personal chef shares a hilarious story from their first meeting: 'The most amazing lady'

'I've seen the happy times, you know.'

Cover Image Source: Queen Elizabeth II meets guests as she attends the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on May 29, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
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Editor's note: This article was originally published on September 9, 2022. It has since been updated.

Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, passed away on September 8, 2022, at the age of 96. "The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon," Buckingham Palace said in a statement, reports ABC News. "The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow." In the wake of the Queen's death, those who knew her and had the fortune of interacting with her took to reminisce memorable instances from her long and illustrious life. Among them was Queen Elizabeth II's former personal chef, Darren McGrady, who recalled the hilarious story of his first encounter with the late monarch.

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McGrady—who traveled with the queen and her royal family for more than a decade—remembered the queen as "the most amazing lady" while speaking to CNN's Erin Burnett. "It's an incredibly sad day... I'm feeling those sort of pains in my stomach as if I lost a loved one. I think the whole nation feels the same and everyone around the world. I got to see the Queen for all those years in pomp and pageantry but also behind the scenes too... The happy, smiley faces. And I'm just thinking back today to when I first met her," he shared.

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"[She was] walking the corgis along the river at Balmoral Castle, and the corgis chasing me, me running away and the Queen just laughing out loud... I've seen the happy times, you know. Those years where I cooked breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner for the most amazing lady," McGrady added. Speaking of what it was like to work for the royal family, he confessed that he'd initially imagined it to be one involving fancy meals all year around. "I thought, 'this is it, we're going to be having champagne and caviar and foie gras every night.' But that wasn't the case," McGrady revealed.

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"The Queen was very humble and she is quite happy just doing a state banquet where we have to have all those rich foods on the menu when she's entertaining kings, queens and presidents from around the world... [but] when she was on her own, just some grilled fish, grilled chicken, and she was never happier than when she was eating something from her own garden," the chef recalled. Queen Elizabeth reigned through 14 American presidents and just as many British prime ministers since coming to the throne in 1952. "I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service," the Queen had pledged to her future subjects on the occasion of her 21st birthday.

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Queen Elizabeth is survived by her three sons, Princes Charles, Andrew and Edward, and one daughter, Princess Anne. She also leaves behind eight grandchildren—Princes William and Harry of Wales, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York, and Peter and Zara Phillips, as well as Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn. The Queen is also survived by 12 great-grandchildren. According to BBC, the monarch's eldest son—to whom the throne passed immediately after his mother's death—said in a statement: "We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world."

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