This is the sum total of what I use to draw portraits. Pencils, paper, eraser, knife and a piece of tracing paper to protect the drawing from smudging. I don't have a ton of supplies or a fancy studio. They would be nice but they don't get the work done. OK, I'm a bit of an inverted snob about this but buying supplies has nothing to do with drawing.
I don't know of anyone else who draws with such hard pencils. I like 2H and 3H for most of the drawing until it's almost finished and then add the finishing touches with an H or HB. Building up the layers slowly allows the pencil to get quite dark or darker than it would if you just pressed hard straight on the paper.
I like very smooth paper so I don't waste time filling in the rough like a Polyfiller! I could save myself a lot of time by simply using a softer pencil and smudging but that gives a slightly out of focus look that I don't want.
I've tried many types of pencil but my favourite are Berol Venus. They are not steely grey like the Derwents and have a warmer look. They also have much less grit than any of the others. Is that why the Queen uses them?