Gin, Martinis and Champagne Daily! Inside the Queen Mum's 'Steady' Drinking Habits
Queen Elizabeth's beloved mother wasn't afraid to imbibe — and started her daily drinking routine before lunch
Queen Elizabeth‘s beloved mother wasn’t afraid to imbibe — and started her daily drinking routine before lunch!
According to Adrian Tinniswood’s new book Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the Royal Household, per the Daily Mail, the Queen Mum — born Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon — enjoyed “steady, rather than excessive” consumption of alcohol.
The wife of King George IV started things off with a glass of Dubonnet and gin before lunch, which was usually served in the drawing room or out in the garden when weather permitted at Clarence House, where she lived from 1953 to 2002.
The Queen Mother then enjoyed wine with her meal.
Major Colin Burgess was responsible for mixing a martini or two before dinner for the Queen Mum, and she sipped Veuve Clicquot champagne as she ate.
Burgess previously recalled working for the royal for the Daily Mail, noting her “fondness for red wine, particularly heavy clarets, which she loved” and drinking a bottle and a half at his first meeting with her.
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“Following my appointment, I discovered the Queen Mother’s pattern of drinking rarely varied,” he wrote. “At noon, she had her first drink of the day — a potent mix of two parts of the fortified wine Dubonnet to one part of gin. This was followed by red wine with lunch and, very occasionally, a glass of port to end it.”
“Later came the ritual observed at 6 p.m., deemed the earliest acceptable time for an evening drink,” he recalled. “‘Colin, are we at the magic hour?’ the Queen Mother would invariably ask, and I’d mix her a martini. After a couple of these, she would sit down to dinner and drink one or two glasses of pink champagne.”
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One of nine children, the Queen Mum was intelligent and well-educated, and spoke French fluently by age 10 after receiving home-schooling lessons, according to the royal family’s official website. She met her husband, then Prince Albert, in her late teens and they married in 1923. The couple’s first daughter, Princess Elizabeth was born in 1926, and their second, Princess Margaret, in 1930.
The Queen Mum and her husband unexpectedly claimed the throne (following the abdication of Prince Edward over his marriage to American Wallis Simpson) in 1937, and she immediately made it the central duty of her and her family.
Her drinking habits didn’t seem pose a problem to her health — the Queen Mum died at age 101 in 2002, just two months after the death of her younger daughter, Princess Margaret, who was 71.