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Princess Diana's chef opens up about her battle with bulimia: 'I knew something wasn't right'

The Princess' former head chef Darren McGrady has spoken about her eating disorder

by Ainhoa Barcelona

Princess Diana's former head chef Darren McGrady has opened up about the royal's battle with bulimia, saying he suspected "something wasn't right". In an exclusive interview with HELLO! Online, Darren revealed that he used to question the Princess' eating habits, but he thought it wasn't his place to say anything. He recalled one summer when Prince Charles and Diana visited the Queen at Balmoral. Darren received a call from the car, from Diana who was on the phone asking him to prepare "certain foods" so that it could be ready for when they arrived.

"I have never talked about the food I prepared for her, the silly things she'd ask for, and I'd never want to and never will, I don't think it's right," said Darren. "But you know the aiding and abetting the bulimia… I was making dishes for the Princess. I always questioned why on earth she wanted all of this food, any of this food, but there was nothing I could do. I was there as a chef, my job was to cook and to prepare food. I wasn't a psychologist, or a doctor, who could say you shouldn't be eating all of this. I knew something wasn't right but I didn't know or understand what bulimia was."

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"I always questioned why on earth she wanted all of this food," said Darren

Darren worked for the Queen at Buckingham Palace for 11 years, before transferring to Kensington Palace to cook for Diana and her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, for four years until her death in 1997. The chef reflected on Diana's healthier years after she overcame her eating disorder, saying: "By the time I moved to Kensington Palace, the Princess had already confronted the bulimia and talked about it in the hope that other people would do. She got her life back on track. She was working out at the gym every day, looking the best she ever did. She had changed, she was now a healthy eater. Bread and butter pudding was her favourite. She would have a small portion every now and then and only when William and Harry were at home; she wouldn't request it when she was alone."

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Revealing her clean-eating diet, Darren added: "The Princess never ate much red meat. She never ate beef, never ate pork, occasionally she'd have lamb when she was entertaining guests but for the most part it was chicken, fish or vegetarian options. One of her favourite dishes was an Egg Suzette which was a baked potato scooped out with wilted spinach in the bottom and a poached egg on top and then a little hollandaise sauce, a tiny amount, with some potatoes piped around the edges."

"When I was cooking for her I had to change my style of cooking," he added. "I had to move from cooking food for the Queen – heavy sauces, rich sauces and creams – to start cooking lighter food again, cutting out the fats, cutting out the carbs. She would say, 'You take care of all the fats and I'll take care of all the carbs at the gym.'"

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Darren's second cookbook is out in November

And while Diana was portrayed as a social butterfly in the press, Darren revealed a quieter side to her, saying: "She would never entertain at home at night. Most of her entertaining was either the girly lunches, whether that be her sisters or her friends, or if it was a charity event where she was trying to get people to raise money. She said I can't do any of that in the evening because if the press see people sneaking into the palace at night, it'll be all over the papers the next day.

"On top of that, she was an early bunny. She liked to go to bed early in the evening. She was up at 7 o'clock in the morning to go to the gym, so for her a good night was around 6:30pm or 7pm going to have a bath and then having a tray dinner in front of the TV. That's what she did a lot of the time when she wasn't on an engagement."

Darren's second cookbook The Royal Chef at Home: Easy Seasonal Entertaining is out on 1 November 2017.

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