With the impending arrival of the newest royal baby, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are no doubt keeping busy preparing the nursery and reading up on how to change diapers — or, at least, how to politely ask their staff to help out when things get really messy.
While many people are speculating about the baby's gender and name, many others are wondering about what the little bundle of joy may be eating. After all, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, got engaged while cooking together and are both known to share a love of many different types of foods.
Here's what royal babies have been feasting on for centuries and a look into the future of what may be served to the royal baby.
Queen Elizabeth ushered in a new era of feeding royal babies
The debate over royal mothers breastfeeding their infants dates back to the 18th century. "The French Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau objected to the prevalence of wet nursing in society. Royal and aristocratic women were not the only mothers who employed wet nurses at the time," Carolyn Harris, PhD, historian and author of "Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting," told TODAY Food.
"The wives of urban merchants and artisans might [have] also sent their infants to be wet nursed by a peasant woman in the countryside so that they could return to work and the infant would spend their early months outside the city, where conditions were thought to be healthier."
Up until the current reign of Queen Elizabeth, breastfeeding was highly discouraged among new royal mothers. Since breastfeeding has a known contraceptive effect — and the duty of every royal woman was to get right back to the job of making more heirs — wet nurses were brought in to feed young babies. Some queens, like Queen Victoria, reportedly found the concept of breastfeeding "repellent" and beneath their station. Wet nurses breastfed all nine of Queen Victoria’s children, but Queen Elizabeth changed the course of royal history by deciding to breastfeed Prince Charles when he was born in 1948.
Princess Diana went on to breastfeed her two sons, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, reportedly breastfed her first born, Prince George, as well.
Prince William and Prince Harry loved comfort food
Princes William and Harry were exposed to a variety of different foods when they could eat solids, but as infants and toddlers, they ate chef-crafted baby food.
Chef Darren McGrady, who worked in Buckingham Palace as the queen’s head chef from 1982 through 1993, told TODAY that there were two royal menus back in the day: the main royal menu, which the queen had to sign off on, and the royal nursery menu. "Nanny was in charge of this menu and gave instructions on what Prince William could, would and should eat," McGrady explained. "We started off with purees, vegetables and fruits and William even had his own nursery footman that would carry his — and his nanny’s — food up to the nursery. Later, we would add in meat and puree it into the vegetables."
The chef went on to explain that when he got a bit older, William was eating the same foods as his royal grandmother — just in pureed form.
McGrady, who now owns his own catering company based in Texas, later served as the head chef for Princess Diana and her sons from 1993 through 1997.
“Once the boys had moved to solid foods, the kitchens would suggest the menu to the nanny … while the boys were royal princes, they still had children’s palates," McGrady said. "They loved comfort foods. Cottage pie, shepherds pie, chicken in a cream sauce with rice, spaghetti Bolognese, mac and cheese and pizza. And lots of chocolate desserts and ice cream, too!”
Prince Harry still has a penchant for sweets and absolutely loves anything flavored with bananas.
As the young princes grew up, said McGrady, Princess Diana let them have more control over their meals. "Honestly if they wanted dessert first, then she let them have it," he said. "As long as they ate and, as long as they were happy, then so was she." Of course, this didn't necessarily sit well with the royal nanny who was tasked with making the kids eat their veggies later, the chef added.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte have tried it all
While it's sometimes hard to imagine Queen Elizabeth as a young mother, that's exactly how the public has gotten to know the former Kate Middleton, who is mother to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Prince William and the duchess have given more insight into their kids' lives than perhaps any other royal family before them. "They have been quite open about the diets of Charlotte and George, with Kate admitting that her two oldest are big fans of Italian cuisine. Apparently, Charlotte loves pasta while George is a sucker for pizza," Melanie Bromley, E! News Chief Correspondent, told TODAY.
At Prince George's school, Thomas’s Battersea (which is located just a few miles from Kensington Palace), meals are carefully selected by a dietitian. On the menu, there are colorful salads, as well as fresh soups. More hearty dishes include lamb ragout with garlic and fresh herbs, "BBQ" pork strips, tomato and avocado bruschetta, baked smoked mackerel, free range chicken with minced chili con carne and three bean ratatouille. Each day, the students may also choose between a meat, fish or vegetarian option.
Of course, as a truly modern royal family, the little princes and princess are likely to enjoy a takeaway meal on occasion. During a BBC Radio 1 interview, Prince William revealed that he and his wife like to chill out with takeout in front of the TV ... just like the rest of us! McGrady shared that Princess Diana liked to do this with her own little princes back in the day, too.
Will the Duke and Duchess of Sussex make their own baby food?
The former Meghan Markle grew up in California and has often championed mindful eating. "A huge foodie and advocate of healthy eating, she has been credited with encouraging Harry to not only quit smoking but to also give up his beloved junk food," said Bromley. "Since Meghan moved in, she’s been spotted shopping at Whole Foods and encouraging Harry to be more conscious about what he puts into his body."
McGrady recalls that during his tenure as a royal chef, "the boys" would sometimes come into the kitchen and request specific dishes for dinner. “Harry would always ask for roasted chicken. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when he cooked this with Meghan the night he proposed to her!”
Aside from a shared appreciation of roast chicken with her beloved, we know that the Duchess of Sussex has historically liked to eat plant-based meals during the weekdays and then indulged in whatever she wanted on weekends. Since she has always loved to cook (she even ran a now-defunct lifestyle blog called The Tig before becoming royalty), many people have been speculating that she will play a very hands-on role in preparing food for her first child. Aside from (pureed) roasted chicken, baby Sussex will likely be enjoying some of the duchess' other favorites like homemade pasta and fresh fish.
Going organic runs in the family
Prince Charles has been an advocate for growing and eating organic food many years before Whole Foods made farm-fresh produce trendy. He started one of the first organic and locally sourced food companies in the world over two decades ago and he's long been a fan of organic agriculture, too. His estate farm (the Duchy Home Farm) has been organic since 1986.
Prince Charles has co-authored books about organic gardening as well, which may be helpful for his son and daughter-in-law should they decide to start growing their own fruits and vegetables at Frogmore House.
“This is where he [Prince Charles] and Meghan will bond,” predicts McGrady. The Prince of Wales feels so passionately about organic food that he created a company, Duchy Originals, in 1990, principally to sell organic food products. His own farm supplies a lot of ingredients, from barley to beets and carrots, that make it into the company's food products, which are sold at Waitrose.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he makes many trips to the Home Park [where Frogmore is located] to help Harry and Meghan set up their organic vegetable garden,” said McGrady. “When I worked there, they produced the most amazing white peaches that the queen adored."
And with Prince Harry's love of bananas, it seems that a delightful fruity mash will soon be enjoyed by all.