Not invited to Harry and Meghan’s wedding picnic this weekend? Don’t panic — here’s the lowdown on the London restaurants and bars with a right royal pedigree, from swish hotel dining rooms to Prince Charles’s favourite neighbourhood gem in Southall.
The posh ones
The first restaurant a British monarch was ever seen dining in publicly was Quaglino’s, when the Queen popped by for dinner in 1956. The swanky St James’s restaurant was so popular with the Windsors that at one point they had a permanently reserved table, nicknamed the ‘royal enclosure’. Liz might not be so keen on Quaglino’s these days — the restaurant’s Twitter bio describes it distinctly unregally as a place to ‘get your boogey on’.
When she’s craving steak frites, the Queen heads to Parisian-style brasserie Bellamy’s in Mayfair. It’s not cheap — 125g of top-notch caviar will set you back £200 — but the coffee comes with Galaxy Minstrels. For a more discreet dinner, she and the Duke of Edinburgh head to the private dining rooms of genteel London hotels like Claridge’s or The Savoy. The £400-a-night Goring hotel is another favourite place to eat, drink and be merry: this is where Kate Middleton’s family set up shop before her wedding to Wills, and where Prince Harry supposedly jumped off a balcony at 3am after one too many vodkas in the bar.
The naughty ones
Those royals love a tryst. The gloriously old-fashioned Rules in Covent Garden, supposedly London’s oldest restaurant, was a favourite of portly philanderer Edward VII. He used to romance his actress mistress Lillie Langtry in what is now the cocktail bar (rumour has it there’s even a hidden door he used). Kettner’s on Romilly Street was another of their secret haunts; King Ed would be delighted that it’s now been restored by the Soho House group, who have conveniently installed bedrooms above the glitzy champagne bar.
Before they were engaged, Kate and William enjoyed flirtatious evenings at Dans Le Noir, the Farringdon restaurant where diners are completely in the dark. Harry and Meghan had their first date at the plush Dean Street Townhouse. They may not have noticed the wallpaper’s subtle pattern is inspired by genitalia, but who knows? Maybe it added to the chemistry.
The rowdy ones
Harry’s Vegas antics look tamer than a pampered corgi next to the debauched nights his great-aunt, Princess Margaret once enjoyed. Margaret loved a boozy dinner of Steak Diane or Lobster Thermidor at glam clubs like Cafe de Paris, followed by a little dance and hopefully a chance to be really rude to someone (at one dinner she didn’t like the canapés, so smilingly stubbed out her cigarette on the tray). Princess Diana had a soft spot for a nightclub too; she and the Duchess of York once snuck into Annabel’s disguised as policewomen.
No doubt Harry’s party days are behind him, now he’s discovered the delights of quiet nights in cooking roast chicken with Meghan. In days gone by however, he’d often be glimpsed at the Berlusconi-themed pizzeria and club Bunga Bunga, a concept so dreadful that Dante would surely have put fans of it in their own circle of hell.
The unexpected ones
Princess Diana apparently snuck William and Harry out for the occasional McDonald’s as kids. So it makes sense that Harry is a burger fan — he once took ex-girlfriend Cressida Bonas out for a Byron in Kensington.
Prince Charles may look like a meat and two veg man, but the heir to the throne has a spicy side: he loves a curry. His favourite Indian restaurant is apparently Brilliant in Southall, which also counts Gordon Ramsay as a fan.
And, to eat like a royal without blowing a monthly paycheque? Head to Nando’s — Prince William loves a cheeky peri peri chicken. Presumably he orders it via Deliveroo though; somehow, it’s hard to imagine him queueing at the till.