Ex-housemaid of the Queen reveals – “I dusted off expensive art and cleaned the royal toilet”


What is it like to work for the Queen of England? How does everyday life work behind the palace walls? The answers are now provided by a former housemaid of the Queen.

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Alicia Healey worked for the Queen of England for four years.

Instagram / theladysmaid

The British woman was one of the Queen's maids.  Her job included dusting sculptures and expensive paintings, as well as cleaning the royal toilets.

The British woman was one of the Queen’s maids. Her job included dusting sculptures and expensive paintings, as well as cleaning the royal toilets.

imago images/i Images

Her place of work: Buckingham Palace.  But when the 95-year-old travels to Windsor, Sandringham or Balmoral, Alicia was there with her.

Her place of work: Buckingham Palace. But when the 95-year-old travels to Windsor, Sandringham or Balmoral, Alicia was there with her.

imago images/ZUMA Wire

  • Several hundred employees ensure law and order in the royal residences of Queen Elizabeth (95). A look behind the palace walls is rarely granted, however.

  • Now a former housemaid talks about her time in the service of the crown.

  • Alicia Healey tells in an article for the “Telegraph” about the job interview, her daily work and the leisure activities as a royal employee.

You can always find job advertisements on the “Royal.uk” website. From communication managers to cooks to personal bellboys and housemaids, the Queen is regularly looking for new, qualified staff. “The Firm”, as the royal family is still called, is a huge company. Not only Buckingham Palace wants to be managed, other historical residences, in which some family members live permanently, also have to be maintained.

But what is it like to dedicate your services to the Crown and to work for the Queen of England? Alicia Healey, author of the book “Wardrobe Wisdom”, has now answered this question in an article for the “Telegraph”. For four years she worked as a housemaid for the monarch, accompanying the 95-year-old as her lady’s maid and personal assistant on various trips.

The royal job advertisement

It was more by chance that she became aware of the position in Buckingham Palace. After studying art history, Alicia applied to numerous advertisements – to no avail. “I wasn’t really interested in these anyway,” she writes. When it came to an advertisement for a summer job at Schloss Balmoral, things looked different. It was a three-month position as a hospitality assistant.

“My main interest and ambition at the time was to work in the field of art and architecture conservation, and I have always had an interest in historical buildings,” Healey said in the article. So she applied and received an interview invitation a week later.

The interview at Buckingham Palace

The application took place with the head housekeeper of Buckingham Palace. The royal job was made palatable to Alicia – with a promised “work-life balance”. Accordingly, there would be a “staff bar” and “Scottish dances”. “She told me that working here was like a university, only without the lectures,” says the author. As an employee, you would have the opportunity to attend balls and special celebrations.

“That sounded pretty tempting to me.” Healey only applied for a three-month summer job, but was immediately offered a permanent position as a housemaid at Buckingham Palace. And Alicia promptly accepted.

The first impression

On her first day, the author was given a tour of her new, very special workplace. “I was shown through the state rooms,” said Healey. The picture gallery in particular made an impression on the former art history student. She was amazed to see “famous Van Dyck and Canaletto paintings, a constable here, a Reynolds there.”

And further: “I was excited that this was going to be my ‘office’ and that I was allowed to walk down those gilded stairs every day, surrounded by so many priceless works of art.”

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Day at work

As a traditional housemaid, she worked in Windsor, Sandringham and Balmoral, doing chores “that have changed little since the time of Queen Victoria.” In her article for the British newspaper she stated: “I felt a bit like a time traveler and enjoyed the uniqueness of these tasks.” Alicia started work at 6:30 a.m. every day. A little too early for her taste: “I was happy if I could keep my eyes open long enough to concentrate on the feather duster, let alone the Van Dyck on the wall.”

In addition to cleaning expensive works of art and dusting paintings, she also had to clean the royal toilets. Due to her education, she soon got another job in the royal art and culture collection, the Royal Collection in St. James’s Palace – albeit on a voluntary basis. There she looked after ancient writings in her free time. But: “Working with sculptures, antique furniture, gilded stairs and picture frames in Buckingham Palace were more pleasant and rewarding,” admits Alicia.

The pleasure behind the palace walls

As promised during the interview, in addition to working, fun was not neglected. Especially with Prince Philip himself, who died in April. “An off-duty highlight was dancing a waltz with the Duke of Edinburgh at the Ghillies Ball at Balmoral Castle. A memory that is still very much alive today. “

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