- A royal chef says the 2021 biopic film “Spencer” got lots of details wrong about the royal family.
- Darren McGrady, who is portrayed in the film, told Insider which details were fictional.
- “I don’t want viewers thinking that the royals were bad. They weren’t at all,” he said.
A chef who worked for the royal households for 15 years says Pablo Larraín’s biopic “Spencer” got lots of details wrong about Princess Diana and the royal family.
The film, which weaves surrealism into its account of history, offers viewers a pre-warning that the events present “a fable from a true tragedy.”
It follows Princess Diana arriving at Sandringham House — one of Queen Elizabeth II’s private residences in Norfolk, England — in 1991 for three days of Christmas festivities.
Darren McGrady, who’s portrayed by Sean Harris in the film, worked with the royal family at Buckingham Palace for 11 years from 1982, according to his website. He then worked for Diana at Kensington Palace from 1993 until she died in 1997.
McGrady told Insider that “Spencer” is creative with its storytelling but viewers should not confuse fiction for reality. “You’ve got to keep looking for all those metaphors,” he added.
Despite the film’s errors, Darren McGrady, a former royal chef, tweeted on March 14 that no actor has mastered Diana’s voice or mannerisms the way Kristen Stewart did, and she “100% deserves an Oscar” for her role as Diana.
He outlined details that he believes are inaccurate.
Food for Christmas at Sandringham was not brought in military trucks, it was sourced locally
McGrady told Insider he wasn’t consulted for the film but could see traces of media interviews he had given over the years woven into the story. “Whoever’s done the research on that was like, ‘Here’s a bit about Darren McGrady, let’s read this and put it in there,'” he said.
He said he previously told a reporter that the military was used to transport cookware to and from Sandringham as it didn’t have its own kitchen budget.
The chief said this was misinterpreted in the film, which showed the military bringing in an excess of produce. “All the food was local,” he said, noting that it was also “simple food” that was ordered in reasonable quantities.
Princess Diana wouldn’t have gotten lost since it was her 11th Christmas at Sandringham
When viewers are introduced to Diana, she is shown to be lost after insisting on driving herself to the estate. McGrady said it was “weird” for the princess to be lost during her 11th Christmas with the family but he acknowledges that it’s symbolic.
“The fact that she’s lost is a metaphor for her life, she’s lost in the moment. She doesn’t really know where she’s going,” he said.
Diana wasn’t unhappy all the time and the royal family weren’t ‘monsters’
McGrady praised Kristen Stewart’s performance portrayal of Diana as “brilliant,” but said the film’s depiction of the royal family as cruel was incorrect.
“My big worry is that somebody would watch that and say, ‘Oh my gosh, the family just sat there, they were monsters,’ and that’s not true,” he said of the film.
He recalled being able to hear Diana’s infectious laugh from the kitchen and witnessing her close relationship with Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, as well as Prince Philip being her biggest ally.
“I don’t want viewers thinking that the royals were bad. They weren’t at all,” he said.
Diana never took William and Harry to KFC, but she did take them to McDonald’s
“Spencer” ends with Diana driving away from the estate in a convertible, with Prince William and Harry in tow.
We see her take the boys, aged 9 and 7 respectively, through a KFC drive-thru but McGrady says this is unlikely as there was no KFC in Kensington at the time.
He added that she did take them to McDonald’s on occasion, recalling that she once told him to cancel lunch so they could visit the fast-food restaurant: “I said, ‘Your Royal Highness, come on, I can make better burgers than McDonald’s .’ She said, ‘I know, but it’s the toys, the boys want the happy meal and the toys.”