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The Royal Family's bizarre sandwich rule to protect King Charles

 King Charles III visits the Global Underwater Hub on September 29, 2023.
King Charles III visits the Global Underwater Hub on September 29, 2023.

The Royal Family’s bizarre sandwich rule is apparently based on a long-standing superstition in place to protect King Charles's reign.

When it comes to meal times everyone has their own way of doing things but the Royal Family’s traditions are often a little more unusual. Not only are there certain foods that they tend to steer clear of (shellfish is apparently a no-go!) but royal children reportedly eat Christmas dinner separately to the adults. However, the Royal Family’s bizarre sandwich rule is something that might not be quite as well-known, despite being every bit as intriguing.

Whilst sandwiches are typically a classic square or triangular shape, a former royal chef Graham Newbould has previously claimed that this isn’t the case with royal sandwiches. Revealing the reason for this on the Channel 5 documentary, Secrets of the Royal Kitchen, he said that it all comes down to a superstition about the monarchy being overthrown.

King Charles III attends afternoon tea at the Colchester Library
King Charles III attends afternoon tea at the Colchester Library

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According to Graham, “The royals never have square sandwiches because tradition has it that anyone presenting them with pointed-edged food is trying to overthrow the throne of England.”

He claimed that during his time working for the late Queen Elizabeth he never served her square sandwiches. Instead, she reportedly enjoyed small “jam penny” sandwiches as part of her afternoon tea which was a tradition upheld at the Palace.

It’s possible that since King Charles became monarch the royals have relaxed this bizarre-sounding sandwich rule and they’ve never personally confirmed it was in place at all. However, given how steeped in tradition the Royal Family is, they could potentially still only eat non-square sandwiches and avoid the risk of the King being overthrown.

King Charles III attends The Braemar Gathering 2023
King Charles III attends The Braemar Gathering 2023

Last year His Majesty’s niece Princess Eugenie discussed royal teatime on Jessie and Lennie Ware’s Table Manners podcast. She explained that it was served at 5pm, was only ever around 45 minutes long and that whilst children tucked into comfort food like Spaghetti Bolognese, the adults had sandwiches.

“It was children’s tea as well as grown-up tea,” Princess Eugenie said. “So like for the kids it was, I don’t know, Spaghetti Bolognese - that was like kids’ tea when we were growing up and then grown-up tea was like sandwiches, little cakes.”

She added that “all the generations” of her family have had tea so she’s kept it going as a tradition for her sons, August and Ernest Brooksbank. What’s less clear is whether King Charles himself enjoys a sandwich or two for afternoon tea.

King Charles III visits the Sandringham Flower Show
King Charles III visits the Sandringham Flower Show

Whilst we might never know if he avoids “pointed-edged” food to this day, he famously prefers skipping lunch in favour of working. Former royal correspondent for The Telegraph, Gordon Rayner, once claimed that “lunch is seen as a luxury that gets in the way of [the King’s] work” and so “he eats a late breakfast and works through”.

“I found this out the hard way, by going hungry when I started covering royal tours, and watching enviously as his long-suffering staff produced snacks from pockets so they could eat on the go,” he declared.