Queen Elizabeth insists on clearing away after her dinner guests herself, according to Cherie Blair.

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The former British prime minister’s wife revealed she offered to help tidy away dirty dishes after dining with the queen, but her offer was politely refused.

She said: “The queen helps clear away the dishes with other members of the royal family and the first year I was there I tried to help. But tradition says it is the queen and her family who have to clear away for their guests. It was extraordinary to watch, especially for someone from my background.”

Cherie also revealed the Duke of Edinburgh gave her a barbeque as a present after seeing her admire one during a visit to the royal family’s Scottish residence Balmoral.

She told Italian magazine A: “The first time we went there Prince Philip saw how interested I was in the barbecue and he very kindly gave us one. I can’t wait to use it in our country home – when we were at Downing Street we never got a chance.”

In 2004 an undercover reporter spent two months working as a royal footman, and discovered the queen liked to read the Racing Post and kept her breakfast cereals in Tupperware containers.