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Former royal security chief reveals the Queen taste tested soldiers’ sandwiches

Queen Elizabeth II (Anthony Devlin / PA)
Queen Elizabeth II (Anthony Devlin / PA)

John Ross, who served for 25 years in the King’s Own Scottish Borders, helped protect the Royal Family on their visits to Balmoral.

Speaking ahead of her 90th birthday this week, the 61-year-old shared some of the behind the scenes secrets of his experiences.

He said: “The Royal Family were so much fun to work for during the holiday period, they made all the soldiers feel at ease.

“One of Her Majesty’s priorities was looking after the welfare of the soldiers who were responsible for providing support for all events including when the Prime Minister visited.

“She often tasted our packed lunches to check we were being properly looked after before we went out on a hunting or fishing trips.

John added: “She would come to the kitchen and inspect the sandwiches.

“Most were up to scratch, but if they weren’t, they’d be sent back.

“Not many, but it did happen.”

John Ross
John Ross

“The Queen wanted to be sure the soldiers were being looked after and the food was on the ball.

“With her own military experience, I’m sure she knew the importance of keeping the troops happy.

John was selected to take charge of 150 soldiers to look after security and administration while the Royal Family stayed at Balmoral for six months between May and October 1991.

He and his brothers James, 61, Robbie, 60, George, 62, and Ernie, who has since passed away, broke the record for the largest number of recruits from one family in the Army’s history.

They are also the longest serving family from one generation.

To mark the Queen’s birthday on Thursday the public have been invited to share their memories on a special website called

John, who signed up for service aged just 15, was delighted to contribute to the website, which will raise funds for the hundreds of charities she supports, and revealed he was fortunate enough to dance with the Queen in 1991.

He added: “It was during the Gillie’s Ball held in the Great Hall at Balmoral for locals and staff, when the Royal Guard Sergeant Major is presented to the Queen to ask her for traditional first dance of ‘The Dashing White Sergeants’.

“I can clearly remember it.

“The Royal piper came and grabbed me from the entrance and took me over to the Queen.

“I’d been given the etiquette by the regiment in advance, we had a brief chat and I asked if she wanted to dance.

“I knew what was coming, but I was still very nervous. It was the most frightening thing, while at the same time the greatest honour I’ve ever had.

“My Dashing White Sergeant was very good, but somehow managed to step on the Queen’s toe. I thought I was going to the Tower.

“Thankfully she was kind enough to tell me not to worry about it.”

The Queens Birthday Book will also contain birthday wishes from a host of celebrities including Dame Vera Lynn, Lorraine Kelly, and Alan Titchmarsh.


The Queen at 90: The Early Days

The Queen at 90: A Childhood in Scotland