I Shopped at the Royal Family’s Favorite Grocery Store and Here’s What I Bought

published Oct 24, 2019
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Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

When most tourists visit London, they go sightseeing, checking out popular attractions like Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and Big Ben. Me? I go grocery shopping, because I love discovering products that are only carried in the U.K. While I’ve spent a fair amount of time wandering the aisles of supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Tesco, and M&S Food, my favorite place to browse is Fortnum & Mason, which also happens to be the royal grocer (it holds a royal warrant and everything!).

As you can imagine, Fortnum’s, founded in 1707, isn’t exactly Trader Joe’s. It’s more like a combo of a fancy food emporium and luxury department store, with six floors that include a gourmet food hall, fancy fragrances and beauty products, men’s clothing and accessories, homewares, an ice cream parlor, a wine bar, a restaurant, and a tea salon. And although it’s unlikely you’ll spot Meghan Markle roaming around with a shopping basket or see the Queen holding up the cash register line as she counts out exact change from her purse, what you will find is many products associated with the royals, including tea blends made for King Edward VII, Queen Anne, and Elizabeth II, as well as preserves and fudge using ingredients grown at Prince Charles’ Highgrove Estate.

During a trip to London earlier this month, I stopped by the original Piccadilly location for some sweets to bring back to the States. Weaving past the mind-boggling selection of tea and coffee, I went straight to the cookie section in search of Lucifer’s Biscuits, which is not a rock band, but a crisp cookie with a gingery zing and a fiery chili finish. My friend Deb introduced me to this devilish delight this summer, so I got us each a tin. I also got a tin of County Biscuits, which included Lancashire Flips (oat cookies), Cornish Fairings (spiced ginger cookies), Shrewsbury Biscuits (currant shortbread), and Yorkshire Parkins (spiced treacle cookies). Honestly, I don’t know what any of that means — I just liked the artwork on the tin.

Credit: Mark Marino

Making my way to the massive preserves section (literally walls and walls of ’em), I picked up a jar of my favorite Blood Orange Marmalade, which is bitter and Italian, just like me. I was surprised to see a display holding Lucifer’s Marmalade (who knew Lucifer was such a wiz in the kitchen?), so I snapped up a jar of that as well. I then basked in the golden glow of the extensive honey section. Previously, I had enjoyed Duchess of Cornwall Honey, made by bees from Camilla’s Wiltshire Estate, but that was out of stock. Instead, I chose Highgrove Royal Garden Honey, which has a citrusy flavor, thanks to the lime trees on Prince Charles’ Highgrove Estate.

My last stop was the Christmas foods section, which is stocked with festive English favorites like puddings (yes, there’s figgy), mince pies, and fruitcakes. I opted for a mini cherry, pecan, and cognac fruitcake, since Americans as a whole detest fruitcake, and I knew I wouldn’t have to share it when I got back to New York.

Credit: Mark Marino

Obviously, you don’t have to be a royal or fly all the way to England to shop at Fortnum & Mason, since the majority of their stock is available online and can be shipped to your own personal palace in the United States. But here’s where it gets better: A wide selection of their products are also available on Williams Sonoma — including The Wedding Bouquet Blend, a jasmine green tea and peppermint tea fusion created to commemorate the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — and on Amazon, so you can avoid paying those extra international shipping charges. Jolly good!

Now if you’ll pardon me, I’ve got a hot date with a Lucifer biscuit …