An arts graduate has revealed how she ended up as a maid at Buckingham Palace where she would wash royal toilets, clean sculptures and even danced with Prince Philip.
She has reflected on the glamorous aspects like waltzing with the Duke of Edinburgh and getting up close to an Antonio Canova sculpture which at least followed the line of her university studies.
But also the more mundane parts of Palace life which she wasn’t really trained for including cleaning the Queen’s loo.
Alicia Healey told how she had left university without work lined up when she saw an advert for a summer job at Balmoral Castle as a “hospitality assistant”.
Alicia, who had an interest in art and architectural conservation thought the opportunity to work in one of the most iconic historic buildings in the world was a great opportunity she reportedly couldn’t pass up.
A few weeks later she found herself being interviewed by the head housekeeper at Buckingham Palace.
She told The Telegraph : “It was an informal interview and she was keen to tell me that it wouldn’t be all work and no play – there was a staff bar on the estate and Scottish dances to attend.”
After the summer ended, she was offered a permanent job as a live-in housemaid at the palace and was “excited” that it would now be her “office”.
Even with the early starts of 6.30am, being able to be surrounded by priceless artworks was a perk of the job.
“It was nevertheless an element of the job that greatly compensated for the less glamorous aspects of my duties,” she explained.
“To be able to dust an Antonio Canova sculpture one minute and clean a royal loo the next really is a tale of two jobs.”
She continued: “At Windsor, Sandringham, and Balmoral, I was more of a traditional lady’s maid, carrying out duties that had changed little since Queen Victoria’s time.
“I felt a bit like a time traveller and relished the unique nature of the role.
“One off-duty highlight was dancing a waltz with the Duke of Edinburgh at the Ghillies Ball at Balmoral Castle, a memory with particular poignancy now.”
One morning, when she and a friend were vacuuming the grand staircase a cameraman came up to them and said “you can come and clean my place if you want.”
But her pal had a savvy reply and told him: “I only clean palaces”.
Although she only intended to stay in the job for a year, she ended up being there for four years, leaving for work for high-profile families as a travelling lady’s maid.
Alicia also published a book on dress codes, clothing care, and wardrobe management, and now runs an Instagram account where she shares style ideas.
Alicia says she wasn’t the only “overqualified ‘servant'” working in royal households, as other maids were also graduates who would choose to work there because of the prestige.