Burger King, Dairy Queen, White Castle, and the Royal Red Robin burger -- many restaurant chains carry monarchy monikers. Could there be a true connection between fast food and royalty?
Convenient and cost-effective, though arguably unhealthy, fast food chains may not immediately remind you of the rich and famous, let alone the echelons of the British royal family. However, a 2018 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that fast food consumption in the United States actually increased with income, albeit only by 6%. Data was self-reported, and the survey based income levels on national poverty guidelines. Similarly, a Statista survey published in 2023 found that the frequency of takeaway meals also increased with income in the United Kingdom. In addition to this data, with rising prices, picking up fast food can feel more like a luxury.
But a £10 Whopper Meal isn't a stretch for a prince. Are royals really dining at Burger King and McDonald's? The connection between the drive-thru and the gates of Buckingham Palace may be stronger than you may think. Read on to learn more about royals who have ties to fast food restaurants.
Queen Elizabeth II Technically Owned A McDonald's
Queen Elizabeth II famously had many particulars around her food, including culinary rules that applied to other members of the royal family. Banned foods among the royal ranks included garlic and seafood. While some may be aware of her rules, followers of the royals may not know that Queen Elizabeth II technically owned a McDonald's.
While it may be fun to imagine the queen liking the golden arches enough to request her own McDonald's, her ownership of the store wasn't so forthright. The situation came to be because the Crown Estate -- an entity that manages properties tied to the British monarchy -- owned the Banbury Gateway Shopping Park, located in the U.K. city of Banbury, which contained a McDonald's. This means that this McDonald's was part of the queen's empire during her reign.
The Crown Estate manages properties in England that sit on land owned by the British Crown. This includes shopping centers and other retail properties, rural land, and the seabed around England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Under the Crown Estate Act of 1961, these properties are not privately owned by the royal family, and they do not have the power to make any decisions about assets within the Crown Estate, such as selling properties.
This means the queen had very little to do with the Banbury McDonald's. This McDonald's is now technically under the ownership of King Charles.
Prince William Loves A Cheeky Nando's
Nando's is a fast-casual chain serving dishes inspired by African and Portuguese cuisine, such as its Peri-Peri Chicken. The chain is popular in the U.K., with over 400 locations in the region. Reportedly, Prince William enjoys the food from the chain.
Prince William mentioned his penchant for this takeaway food in the BBC documentary "Football, Prince William and Our Mental Health," (via Express). In the film, which focuses on men's mental health, Prince William says that it has been a while since he indulged the craving, but that he, like the rest of Britain, enjoys it.
In the documentary, Prince William chats with a Nando's employee and explains that a member of his security team introduced him to Nando's. While Nando's spicy, grilled Peri-Peri Chicken is not a meal beloved by all of the royals, it does seem to be a relatable meal beloved by England, as well as Prince William.
Princess Diana Embraced Trips To McDonald's
As seen in the emotionally harrowing film "Spencer," and the television series "The Crown," Princess Diana frequently shirked royal protocol. One of the ways she did this was by taking her sons William and Harry to fast food chains. According to a Maire Claire interview with former royal chef Darren McGrady, Diana would tell the chef that she was taking her boys to McDonald's for a Happy Meal -- so that the boys could get the included toys -- forgoing his offer to make burgers at the palace.
This endearing habit, however, will likely not be embraced by Princess Catherine. Catherine is often compared to Princess Diana -- mostly due to their sometimes similar fashion senses. Reports of Catherine's decisions regarding fast food come from Tom Quinn's book "Gilded Youth," (via Daily Mail) in which the author examines the ways royals bring up their children. Quinn says Princess Catherine wants to align herself and her children more with royal norms, including skipping fast food runs.
But the book includes theories on Diana's fast food passions, as well. Quinn hypothesizes that Diana's McDonald's trips were not only for the Happy Meal toys, but to provide a sense of normalcy for her sons, as well.
Burger King (Jokingly) Offered Prince Harry A Job
After Prince Harry announced that he would be stepping down from royal duties, Burger King offered to pass him a different kind of crown. In social media posts, the burger chain offered Harry a job. The chain even jokingly opened the opportunity to all dukes looking for employment opportunities.
American and Argentinian social media accounts for Burger King both joined in on the fun. The accounts jokingly offered to give Harry and other royals the chance at a new chapter at their restaurants. "Dear Dukes, you can look for your first job without giving up the crown," the Argentinian account said in an Instagram post. "Harry, this royal family offers part-time positions", the American Burger King account posted on X, formerly Twitter, account.
These posts drew hundreds of comments, from both personal and business accounts. Companies like Budweiser even played along. "Perhaps he would rather be second-in-line for the King of Beers," replied the Canadian Budweiser account in an X post.
The Belgian Royal Family Got Heated Over A Fast Food Ad
The British aren't the only royals tied to Burger King advertisements. A 2017 advertisement featuring a cartoon version of King Philippe of Belgium drew disapproval from this particular royal family. At the time of the campaign, the chain was opening new stores around Belgium and Luxembourg.
During the web campaign, Burger King ran a poll asking Belgians to vote if they preferred their monarch or the Burger King mascot. The controversial interactive advertisements said things like: "Are you sure you want to elect King Philip? It's not he who will cook you fries," if participants tried to cast a vote for the royal.
Representatives for King Phillippe asserted that the King's likeness, even in animated form, could not be used for commercial gain and was not approved by the monarchy. This campaign has since been removed from Burger King's Belgium website.
A Royal Chef Is Credited With Inventing Chicken McNuggets
Available in sizes as large as a 40-piece nugget meal in the U.S. and a 20-piece nugget meal in Britain, McDonald's Chicken McNugget is a staple for the chain. But did you know that a royal chef inspired the juicy nuggets we know and love today?
While looking for a new product amid red meat's declining popularity around the 1980s, McDonald's hired royal chef Rene Arend to find a tasty solution. Arend, who prepared meals for Queen Elizabeth II, came up with a fried chicken recipe that met the approval of McDonald's leadership but was ultimately difficult to reproduce.
Not wanting to let the recipe go, McDonald's partnered with other food mass-producers, including frozen fish aficionados Gorton's, to automate and perfect the production process, which partially meant creating an easier batter to make in bulk. While different from the modern McNugget, Arend is still credited for his aid in the creation. The crispy, golden, bite-sized poultry pieces are so popular that Chicken McNuggets have caused fights between customers.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.