Although the British royal family lives the kind of lives most of us can barely imagine, every now and then they like to try out things us commoners take for granted. This week, Queen Elizabeth II was given the chance to experience the joys of traipsing around the grocery store — although her version of this chore was a little different from ours.
The 93-year-old monarch wasn’t looking for Darjeeling teabags (her preferred blend, according to Reader’s Digest), and the supermarket she went to wasn’t even a real store.
It’s a pop-up version in London’s Covent Garden, designed to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Sainsbury’s. They’re a British supermarket known for their bright orange coloring and emphasis on good quality produce for a good price. Decorated and stocked like a ye olde shoppe, the pop-up store is open to all (not just royalty) all week, and it’s within sight of 173 Drury Lane, where the supermarket chain got its start as a humble stall.
The Queen was welcomed at the door by actors in period dress, and shown how grocery stores used to run.
Check out the highlights here:
There was one awkward moment: Queen Elizabeth was somewhat skeptical about the self-checkout tills.
At one point during the visit, Damien Corcoran, Sainsbury’s regional manager for England’s north-east, showed HRH the store’s high-tech self-checkout machines. Mr. Corcoran explained that customers can now use their smartphones to scan bar codes as they shop, and then pay quickly when they’re done. But the Queen had questions:
93-year old shopper goes to @sainsburys and asks if you can ‘trick’ the self-service checkouts.— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) May 22, 2019
‘And you can’t trick it? You can’t cheat?’ said the shopper.
(Asking for a friend, obviously!!)#Sainsburys150 pic.twitter.com/DeeZG20aQb
In case you missed that (royalty does not shout), she asked, “You can’t trick it? You can’t cheat?” To which Mr. Corcoran replied, “Well you always can cheat!” before explaining that the scales in the machine should prevent that.
Some Brits enjoyed their monarch’s day out:
The Queen asking if you can rob out of @sainsburys using the self service till, is my favourite news story today ,🤣😂😂😂— Pj (@glossyglitz) May 22, 2019
Others wondered why they didn’t get the same treatment:
I go to the supermarket every frickin’ week and no one bats an eyelid - the Queen goes to @sainsburys ONCE and they roll out the red carpet and it gets on the news!— Sara Clifford-Gray (@bookmadmum) May 22, 2019
And what the Queen’s total was:
There was concern that Sainsbury’s staff missed out on their chance to meet the Queen:
@sainsburys @SainsburysNews just watched the clip on @BBCNews Why use actors in the replica store when you could’ve have given the opportunity to some of your amazing staff to be there? Some of the people who make customers come back again and again? #dissapointed #recognition— Cristina Dominte (@DominteCristina) May 22, 2019
And a suggestion that actually, she might have a point:
Apparently some of the ‘low-level’ royals are more familiar with supermarkets:
It's a surefire measure of royal seniority. I've seen a couple of minor royals in our local Sainsburys and in M&S on Kensington High Street but never the Queen, DofE or PoW.— Adrian Weale (@Edeaulx) May 22, 2019
Weird flex, but okay.
This isn’t the Queen’s first visit to a supermarket.
According to the Evening Standard, she’s visited high-end supermarket Waitrose at least twice, and it’s rumored that she sometimes pops to the local shops when on holiday at her Scottish estate Balmoral.
Princess Diana also walked down the aisles.
In 1990, the Princess visited a Tesco in Solihull, near Birmingham, U.K.[fm_youtube url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fl7YPbSu1O8"]
And more recently, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (aka Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) visited a supermarket with a difference.
They were in Birkenhead, Merseyside, U.K., to officially open a cafe and citizens’ supermarket called Number 7, which helps provide affordable food to people in the area who are struggling financially.
One royal who doesn’t need an official reason to be in the supermarket is the Duchess of Cambridge (better known as Kate Middleton).
The Duchess has been spotted pushing her own cart, checking out, and even loading her bags into the back of her Range Rover — all in the presence of a bodyguard, of course (just in case you thought this seemed too normal!).
The future queen consort is much more hands-on with the checkout process.
But you have to give Elizabeth II props for trying. And given that the Queen famously doesn’t carry cash, we think that now that she’s sussed out how to get around it, this new smartphone system should suit her style.