The Fast-Food Restaurant You Probably Forgot The Queen Owned

Fans of the royal family don't need to bribe an inside source to get the scoop on the late Queen Elizabeth II's favorite things to eat. Royal chefs have been more than willing to offer snapshots of a day in life at Her Royal Majesty's dining table, which usually played host to a simple breakfast of biscuits and Earl Grey (the queen's favorite tea), followed by a lemon-twisted gin and Dubonnet (which was the queen's favorite cocktail, no matter what Tom Hanks says), a healthful lunch of fish and vegetables, a fanciful afternoon tea filled with cream sponge and ginger cake, and a rounded dinner of meat and greens. With the news of her death, we have no doubt that her enormous legacy will live on in part through her love of food, in all its particularity. (And surely, the memorials held in her honor will include royal spreads of her favorite dishes.)

Of course, the queen's responsibilities extended far beyond dining and entertaining. As the head of state, the monarch also owned an eclectic variety of properties under the Crown Estate, including race courses, hotels, castles, an offshore energy compound, and a particularly posh outpost of one of the world's largest fast-food franchises (per Insider UK). That's right — the golden arches at Oxfordshire's Banbury Gateway Shopping Park was owned by the queen, and it shows. 

The queen's McDonald's has Eames chairs and leather sofas

As fans mourn the loss of Queen Elizabeth II, who died on September 8 after dealing with COVID-19 and other health issues (per The New York Times), let's look a lighter moment back in 2017. Insider U.K. took a lengthy journey from London to pay a visit to the Oxfordshire McDonald's owned by Queen Elizabeth II with a cardboard cutout of Her Majesty in tow.

Immediately upon arrival, Insider remarked that the restaurant "immediately felt different to most McDonald's." Instead of the franchise's usual decor, the stately outpost is decked out with coveted Eames chairs and curved leather sofa benches, while sleek digital menu boards and tablets offer the now-ubiquitous luxury of contact-free ordering. 

We don't imagine the queen went out of her way to reign over this particular McDonald's, but because it was located on property owned by the Crown Estate, she decided to grace it with her signature touch. If you find yourself in the area, stop by for a Big Mac and raise a glass to Britain's longest-reigning monarch. 

Five-star amenities, one-star reviews

Insider noted several ways in which the Banbury location subtly differs from the average U.K. McDonald's. Most notably, there's table service. The outlet's reviewer ordered a bacon roll with brown sauce and a hash brown, plus an obligatory cup of PG Tips tea, making it a British breakfast fit for a queen (or at least her admirers). 

The location's TripAdvisor page features reviews from other visitors who also lauded the location's tasty breakfasts (one customer beamed that their egg was "shell free"). But not all of the reviews were positive. "I visited the McDonald's at Banbury Gateway tonight and received possibly the worst customer service I have ever received," wrote one customer. "I waited over five mins for a meal and when I got it the fries were cold," echoed another. "Handy but a very poor service." One customer called the vanilla milkshake "superb" but admitted that the nuggets were "far below average" and that the fries were "lukewarm." 

All in all, the Banbury Gateway Shopping Park McDonald's doesn't seem up to the queen's standards.

Burger queen

According to Darren McGrady, who served as the personal chef to Queen Elizabeth II and other royal denizens of Buckingham Palace for 15 years (per British Heritage), Her Majesty tended to avoid food that came out of a deep fryer and took less time to prepare than the duration of a pop song. Knowing this, one might assume that the queen would have been staunchly opposed to doing business with McDonald's, aka the world's largest fast-food chain

Once in a blue moon, however, McGrady says that the queen would send for an out-of-pocket dish when the craving stuck. It certainly wasn't pizza, which she forbade the kitchen from preparing. It was one of McDonald's signature menu items: hamburgers

 But according to McGrady, she preferred her burger to come from the palace kitchen, not her local Mickey D's. And when that not-so-fast burger reached the queen's plate, McGrady told Insider that she would eat it with a fork and knife. "Her Majesty's Victorian upbringing dictates that the only thing you would pick up and eat with your fingers is afternoon tea," he said to the outlet.