Royals

Secrets of the Windsor women - they're more like us than you'd imagine

From shyness to getting speeding tickets to being partial to a jam sandwich, we're reminded that the famous and fêted Windsor women are everyday people too.

To the world, they are the women who were either born or married into great privilege; women who lead remarkable lives that we can only wonder at. But in reality, the famous and fêted Windsor women are like the rest of us, with hopes and dreams, flaws and fears, and quirky habits. Here's a sneak peek at the real people behind the royal facade, and what makes them who they are.

The Queen

She’s actually very shy

She spends her life meeting and conversing with strangers – from heads of state and celebrities through to ordinary citizens – but in fact, the Queen (92) is naturally shy, just like her father was.

As a child, there were times when her shyness was overwhelming and she found walking into a crowded room daunting, until her mum the Queen Mother gave her some advice that stood her in good stead for the rest of her life.

"The Queen Mother told the Queen when she was very young to be brave," says family friend Prudence, Lady Penn (92). "She said to her, 'What you want to do, when you walk into a room, is walk through the middle of the door.' I think by that she meant don't go in apologetically. Walk through as if you are in charge. I think that was very good advice."

She likes to be ordinary

The Queen enjoys staying at Sandringham (where she spends Christmas) and Balmoral (the venue for her summer holiday) because she can be less formal than at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle.

Balmoral is her particular favourite. She goes horse riding in the morning, drives around the estate to visit tenants and even pops over to the neighbouring town, Ballater, to do a spot of shopping. Once a customer in one of Ballater's shops said to her, "You look just like the Queen." Her Majesty replied, "How very reassuring."

Family barbecues are held at a log cabin on the estate, and the Queen chips in by laying the table and cleaning up afterwards. "She likes to be able to do ordinary things," says an aide.

She likes a sweet treat occasionally

The Queen has always eaten healthily, preferring porridge for breakfast and often going carb-free at lunch and in the evening – one of her favourite meals is grilled fish on a bed of wilted spinach – if she's not attending an official dinner.

But for afternoon tea, along with smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches, she'll often indulge in something sweet. She's quite fond of jam pennies – jam sandwiches cut into rounds the size of an old penny – and chocolate biscuit cake, but will only take a few nibbles.

Anne, Princess Royal

She uses public transport

The notoriously frugal princess has been spotted on public transport, including the London Underground. A woman once told how she realised the woman sitting behind her on the Tube was the Queen's daughter. "She was on an actual train. Just like a normal person."

She’s been in trouble with the law a few times

Anne's (68) fondness for driving fast is well known in her family and in 2002, she received an $800 fine for speeding. In a letter to the court explaining why she hadn't pulled over for a police car that flashed its blue lights at her, she said she thought the car was providing her with an escort.

It wasn't the first time she'd been caught putting her foot down. In 1972, she was given a written warning for speeding on the M1 motorway and in 1977, she was fined $80 for doing 96m/h in a 70m/h zone, again on the M1.

In October 1990, she was fined $300 and banned from driving for a month after admitting driving offences. She told the magistrates she'd gone fast because she was late for an engagement.

Anne also received a $1000 fine in 2002 after her dog Dotty attacked two children in Windsor Great Park.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

She nearly didn’t make it to her own wedding

In the week leading up to her wedding to Prince Charles (69), Camilla had been ill with sinusitis. But on the day of the ceremony, it was nerves that looked set to scupper the whole event. Camilla (71) refused to get out of bed, even though her daughter Laura Lopes (40), sister Annabel Elliot (69), and dresser Jacqui Meakin did their very best to persuade her.

She was paralysed with fear and worried about the reception she would get from the crowds gathered in Windsor because she was still seen as "the other woman" who broke Princess Diana's heart.

Eventually Annabel said, "Okay, that's all right, I'm going to do it for you. I'm going to get into your clothes." That got Camilla up.

She was taught the art of conversation by her parents

Camilla's naturally outgoing personality helps when it comes to chatting with strangers, but she says she owes her parents a debt of thanks for teaching her manners and how to talk to people, thus making her royal duties easier.

"My mother would sit us down at the dinner table and the minute there was silence she used to say, 'Talk! I don't care what you talk about, talk about your budgie or your pony, but keep the conversation going'," she recalls. "And so I've never been unable to talk. It's in the psyche not to leave a silence."

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

She’s terrified of public speaking

Kate has no problems communicating in private but hates speaking publicly. It took her almost a year after her marriage to give her first speech, at a hospice, and she was visibly nervous. Afterwards she admitted, "I find giving speeches nerve-wracking."

Two years later, she looked mortified when she gave a very brief speech at the National Portrait Gallery and stumbled several times. She ended with a garbled, "Sorry about that" and exited the podium in a rush.

The duchess (36) has access to the best media trainers but it appears she either hasn't capitalised on that opportunity or it hasn't helped. Her speeches – including in support of charities she cares about – have been few and far between, and she has resorted to recording video messages such as the one she did in support of Children's Hospice Week in 2013.

She’s got a good sense of fun

Kate's royal role often involves being rather serious but underneath that prim and proper exterior, she's said to have a great sense of humour and doesn't mind mocking herself.

At her wedding reception, she and Prince William (36) lip-synced to the Grease hit You're the One That I Want, even doing some of the dance moves.

And she got into the swing of things, donning a traditional skirt and swaying along to the music on a visit to the Solomon Islands in 2012

She’s no lightweight when it comes to alcohol

Friends who attended the University of St Andrew's with Kate say she can handle her alcohol and could drink William under the table. Annoyed that drinking clubs were restricted to male membership only, she co-founded the first female drinking society at the Scottish university.

Before becoming a mum, she would sometimes join William and their pals at the upmarket Kensington nightclub Boujis, where her go-to cocktail was the "Crack Baby." Her favourite tipple otherwise is Jack Daniels and Coke.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

She Could Have Gone Into Politics

Meghan grew up in TV studios, thanks to her dad Thomas (74) working as a lighting director on shows like Married… With Children, and was always keen on being an actress. But politics was another possible option.

Meghan (37) did a double degree at Northwestern University in Illinois as she didn't want to be seen as the clichéd "girl from LA who decides to be an actress. I wanted more than that, and I had always loved politics, so I ended up changing my major completely and double majoring in theatre
and international relations."

While studying, she worked as an intern at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires. "It was their economic devaluation and our Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neill, was there so I'm 20 years old, in Buenos Aires, in a motorcade, doing that whole thing. I thought for sure I would have a career in politics."

She really is good friends with Serena Williams

Many assumed that tennis star Serena was only invited to Meghan's wedding to Prince Harry as she's a celebrity and a fellow American. But the two are genuinely good pals.

They met at a charity event in 2014 and hit it off straight away, "chatting not about tennis or acting, but about all the good old-fashioned girly stuff," Meghan wrote on her old blog, The Tig.

"She quickly became a confidante I would text when I was travelling, the friend I would rally around for her tennis matches and the down-to-earth chick I was able to grab lunch with. We are both the same age, have a penchant for hot sauces and adore fashion, but what connects us more than those things is perhaps our belief in exceeding expectations – our endless ambition."

She’s got amazing handwriting

Her neat handwriting was a useful sideline as she tried to launch her acting career. "I didn't wait tables, I did calligraphy," Meghan reveals. She was even asked to do wedding invitations for celebs such as Robin Thicke (41).

Princess Diana

She became great friends with her staff

Diana often went against protocol to develop friendships with people who worked for her. She was very close to her butler Paul Burrell and trusted him with many of her secrets.

She also had a strong bond with her bodyguard Barry Mannakee, and in tapes released by her voice coach, Peter Settelen, when she discussed being in love with "the greatest fellow I have ever had", she's believed to have been talking about Barry, who was killed in a crash in 1987.

Diana would wander into the kitchen – something other royals never did – and eat at a countertop while her personal chef, Darren McGrady, cleared up. She would even make coffee for the two of them.

She was pursued by Donald Trump

In the 1990s, the businessman lavished attention on Diana after meeting her at an awards ceremony. After her divorce to Prince Charles came through, he sent huge floral bouquets to her at Kensington Palace.

Former British TV newsreader Selina Scott, who was a friend of Diana's, later said Donald saw her as the ultimate trophy wife. "As the roses and orchids piled up at her apartment, she became increasingly concerned about what she should do. It had begun to feel as if Trump was stalking her," says Selina, adding that Diana said to her, "He gives me the creeps."

Shortly after her death in 1997, the now President of the United States told radio host Howard Stern that he thought he could have gotten lucky with Diana

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