Princess Diana’s former chef says he made the ‘cardinal sin’ of serving her favourite breakfast — a can of baked beans — to Americans

Princess Diana was a big fan of baked beans, according to her chef Darren McGrady. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images, Oli Scarff/Getty Images
  • Princess Diana’s chef once served her favourite breakfast to an American family who refused to eat it.
  • Darren McGrady, who worked at Kensington Palace, said Diana favoured a can of baked beans and a grapefruit on gym days.
  • Diana particularly loved baked beans and would even write McGrady notes requesting them.
  • Heinz beans are typically part of a cooked breakfast in the UK, but that isn’t so common in the US.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Princess Diana’s chef described the breakfast the royal would eat before every gym session — and the one part of the meal that didn’t go down well with Americans.

Darren McGrady worked for the Queen at Buckingham Palace for 11 years before moving to Diana’s Kensington Palace home from 1993 to 1997.

He told Insider that the princess would request a “tin of Heinz baked beans, a pink grapefruit, a cup of coffee, and a glass of orange juice” for her breakfast at least three times a week, on the days she went to the gym.

The princess would even leave her chef notes requesting baked beans, shown in the photo provided by McGrady below.

Princess diana note
Diana’s note to McGrady requesting beans for breakfast. Darren McGrady

“She wanted Heinz beans because someone had told her they are low in carbs, low in fat, and high in protein, which is great for someone working out,” McGrady told Insider.

The former royal chef recently shared a YouTube video with his recipe for a full English breakfast, which included a portion of beans.

He told Insider that he had once made the mistake of serving beans for breakfast to an American family when he first moved to the US.

While beans are a common part of a cooked breakfast in the UK, McGrady learned that they aren’t typically served with breakfast in the US.

“I remember cooking for a family when I first came over here, and I made the cardinal sin of serving baked beans for breakfast like it was the norm. They didn’t eat them,” he said.

Baked beans are said to have originated from a Native American dish in which beans were cooked with fat and maple syrup, according to the Mail Online. European settlers were believed to have adapted the recipe using pork and molasses.

Heinz introduced baked beans in the UK in the early 1900s. They were originally sold as a luxury item at the British department store Fortnum and Mason. Queen Elizabeth II granted the brand a royal warrant in 1954, making Heinz the official supplier of beans at every royal household in the UK.

The US and UK versions of Heinz beans are said to be quite different. According to Culinary Ginger, the US version is “cooked with pork (bacon) molasses and brown sugar and the sauce is much sweeter and thick,” whereas the UK version is made without meat and with a thinner tomato sauce.

The Heinz website describes the British version of the product as “high in fibre, high in protein and low in fat.”

“Heinz made a British bean with less sugar — the Brits don’t want sugar in their breakfast,” McGrady said. “But that’s not to say the Brits don’t love sugar; we eat more chocolate than anyone else in the world. So they want to save the sugar for that.”