It’s been 20 years since Princess Diana died in a tragic car crash, but her legacy of giving to and inspiring others may be stronger than ever.
As the anniversary of her death nears, the people closest to her have come out to share their most treasured and personal memories of a princess who was beloved by many, but really only truly known by a handful of insiders. Darren McGrady, Princess Diana's personal chef, is one of those insiders. He’s now sharing his own memories of a woman he watched and cooked for over the last, and perhaps best, years of her life.
McGrady, who worked for Diana and the royal family from 1993 until she died in 1997, shared a few tidbits about the princess in his book, "The Royal Chef at Home," his second cookbook that is set for release on September 1.
“My first job at Buckingham Palace was right at the very bottom — chef No. 20 of 20. I worked on the vegetable section cooking for palace staff. It was horrible. Frozen vegetables for 300,” he shares in his book, excerpted in USA Today.
It wasn’t until he traveled to Balmoral Castle, the Queen’s summer home in Scotland, that he met Diana.
“Over time, I became a friendly, familiar face to her, although I was never her friend. I was staff. I never called her Diana,” he said. “It was 'Your Royal Highness' to the end, even after she lost the title and would say, ‘You don't have to call me that.’”
The two bonded over the Balmoral kitchen sink, and when Diana eventually divorced Prince Charles, she asked that McGrady come and be her personal chef at Kensington Palace.
By then, McGrady said, Diana had grown into her own and had gotten help for her eating disorder. It was then, he added, that she had developed a love of healthy eating and would often request that McGrady make versions of her decadent favorites with healthier ingredients.
“One time she said: ‘Make me the tomato mousse you made for President Ronald Reagan at Windsor Castle,’ and I said, 'You can't have that Your Royal Highness it's got mayonnaise, sour cream, it's got double cream.' She said, 'Well, make me a fat-free version.'"
He then started changing all of his recipes, which he found exciting as it was something totally new in the food world at the time.
From her love of juicing, to fresh fish and vegetables, McGrady shared all the princess’ favorites. The only time she’d indulge, he said, was when she was with her boys, Prince William and Prince Harry, who were allowed to eat whatever they wanted.
“I would take the fat off her chicken, and with the potatoes, I would dip them in egg white and paprika and put them to one end of the dish and she would know they were for her,” McGrady explained of how he would help Diana enjoy the same meals as her children. “She wanted to eat healthy. She looked the best she ever did. She never ate red meat. She loved fish, stuffed bell peppers.”
Following her death, McGrady said she continued to inspire him through her vast charity work. Now, he too takes part in giving back to the community by cooking for the homeless and providing his services when he can, just as Diana would.
He added, “That, for me, is how her legacy lives on.”
Read the entire excerpt here.