What it’s really like to be a cleaning lady at Buckingham Palace



Buckingham Palace was considered by everyone to be “The Office”. I found out that I was welcoming the Royal Calendar Division and the escape from the city that came when the Queen visited her other residences, where we would be busier, always with a guest to serve and plenty to do.

In Windsor, Sandringham and Balmoral, I was more of a traditional maid, carrying out duties that had changed little since the time of Queen Victoria. I felt a bit like a time traveler and relished the unique nature of the role. A highlight outside of working hours was dancing a waltz with the Duke of Edinburgh at the Ghillies Ball at Balmoral Castle, a particularly poignant memory now.

I had embarked on a very different path from that of my academic peers; very early on I felt a little reluctant to get a job “in the service” after college. I was only planning on staying for a year, but ended up staying there for four, before going to work for other renowned families as a maid, assistant and stylist.

I have also published a book on dress codes, wardrobe management and clothing care – Wardrobe Wisdom – and I run a popular style Instagram account, @theladysmaid, where I share my style ideas for different occasions.

I often wonder what I would do now if I hadn’t accepted this temporary job in the Highlands that led me to this very unique career path. Maybe I would be sitting behind a desk in a London office wondering what it would be like to work for HM The Queen.

The cogs of the royal household

By Madeleine Howell

One could imagine that the employees of the royal family still occupy an archaic world of courtiers attracting the favors of the castles.

But alongside the traditional roles you might expect, the Queen’s Royal Household today employs IT professionals and engineers, as well as helicopter pilots, royal protection officers, footmen. , nannies, butlers, painting restorers, pastry chefs and grooms.

Other members of the royal family who hold public office, such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Princess Royal, have separate and smaller ‘homes’ to support them in their duties.

Before stepping down from royal duties and closing their offices at Buckingham Palace, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex formed their own household of 15 employees, including private secretaries and personal assistants (who were later fired).

‘The Firm’ now describes itself as ‘unexpectedly business-oriented’ aside from a grandiose historic setting (the majority of employees are based at Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace in London, Windsor Castle and Holyroodhouse Palace in Edinburgh).

There are 188 staff rooms at Buckingham Palace for resident staff, and roles such as personal assistant provide the opportunity to travel with members of the Royal Family. While the exact number of people employed in the Royal Household fluctuates, some 1,200 people are employed at Buckingham Palace alone.

A roll call of royal employees, past and present


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