Royal Butler Reveals A Surprising Detail About The Queen's Personality

When he was a child, Grant Harrold aspired to meet Queen Elizabeth. At age 13, he saw the monarch dancing in a documentary. "I thought, 'How do you get to dance with the queen?'" Harrold told Slingo.

As a teen, Harrold decided he would become a butler. His career choice was inspired by Anthony Hopkins' performance in "Remains of the Day," (per My London). Once he reached adulthood, Harrold began working as a butler with a goal of seeking employment with the royal family. After six months of interviews, he worked for Prince Charles for seven years from 2004 to 2011, per Woman & Home.

Harrold was 26 and working for the royal family when he got to meet his idol — Queen Elizabeth. "You don't realize how short she is — that was the first thing," he recalled. At her tallest, the monarch was 5'4" (via Express). However, over the years Elizabeth has become smaller than she used to be. Besides her short stature, the royal butler discovered some unexpected attributes about the queen's personality.

Queen Elizabeth has an impressive sense of humor

Former royal butler Grant Harrold vividly remembered his first meeting with Queen Elizabeth. "She wasn't very regal or royal, but we had a really nice conversation and I felt really relaxed around her," Harrold told Slingo. It wasn't long before he also became acquainted with Elizabeth's style of humor. "She would do something that was hysterical and nobody would laugh because they wouldn't know if she was being funny or not. And you'd all look at each other like, 'did the queen just make a joke?'" Harrold recalled. "She's wonderful at that and that is something that I absolutely loved. Our queen has got a wicked sense of humor."

Elizabeth's sense of humor may seem surprising at first, and the queen takes advantage of that unexpected element. The monarch has an impressive amount of quips — so many that Karen Dolby compiled them into the book "The Wicked Wit of Queen Elizabeth," per Vanity Fair. For example, after protesters threw eggs at her and Prince Philip in New Zealand, the queen said at a banquet, "I myself prefer my New Zealand eggs for breakfast," (via Vogue).

According to Hello! Magazine, Elizabeth's dark wit was on display at the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show, too. After learning lilies of the valley were historically used as poison, she joked, "I've been given two bunches this week. Perhaps they want me dead."

The queen capitalizes on her age and position for humor

Over the years, Queen Elizabeth has used her age for the sake of a laugh, as former president George W. Bush has revealed. When Bush slipped up in a speech, saying 1776 instead of 1976, Elizabeth jokingly said at a later event, "I wondered whether I should start this toast by saying, 'When I was here in 1776 ...,'" per The Guardian.

The queen has also made sport out of the times when she hasn't been recognized. When American visitors at Balmoral asked the monarch, "Have you ever met the queen?" she jokingly replied, "No, but he has," pointing to the protection officer who was beside her (via Vanity Fair.) On another occasion, when a person remarked how much she resembled the queen, Elizabeth dryly replied, "How reassuring," per Express.

The queen also appreciates humor in others and loves hearing a joke. "I could hear her guffawing. You didn't realize she had that hearty laugh," a source told royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith (via Vanity Fair), recalling a private exchange between Prince Philip and Elizabeth. The Duke of Edinburgh was known for his dry, sometimes controversial sense of humor. Off-color jokes don't seem to bother the queen, however. My London reported that when an aide tried to silence Sir Donald Gosling in the middle of a Viagra-themed horse joke, the queen scolded him, and made Gosling re-tell the joke from the beginning. 

Humor aside, there are some matters Queen Elizabeth takes seriously

During his seven years as butler to Prince Charles, Grant Harrold enjoyed a close relationship with the royal family. "Some people say seven years isn't a long time, but in the world of being a butler, seven years of having somebody in your house living with you, it's quite intense," Harrold told Slingo.

During that time, Harrold attended special events like Charles and Camilla's wedding and a celebration honoring Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's 60th anniversary. "I even got to dance with the queen at one of those balls I had watched on television 12 years before," he said. "Thinking about it, 12 years isn't that long of a time to actually make those dreams a reality." The former royal butler recalled the monarch's precision on the dance floor. "She's a very good dancer. She watches your feet, she makes sure you're doing it right," he told My London.

However, once he left his job, Harrold came up against a more steely aspect of the queen. As reported in The Times, when he tried to trademark "The Royal Butler" for his training and etiquette company, the queen's legal team took action. Without permission from Elizabeth or the Cabinet Office, Harrold could not use the word "royal." The request was also denied on the grounds that people might mistakenly think he was still working for the royals, despite leaving the job in 2011.