Royal Family
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What's It Like To Live At Buckingham Palace?

Updated April 9, 2021 442.9k views12 items

What is life like in Buckingham Palace? That continues to be a bit of a mystery. As a royal residence and an official state building, Buckingham Palace operates in both private and public spheres. Buckingham Palace on the inside contains rooms designated for official purposes, with private apartments nearby for the queen and members of her family.

Living and working in Buckingham Palace comes with a variety of perks - staff enjoy everything from medical services to exercise facilities. Some of the challenges of the aging structure, including a leaking roof and falling detritus, may not seem like the ideal living situation, but as part of Buckingham Palace's history, these defects could just be considered part of the building's charm. The size and grandeur of Buckingham Palace exceeds general knowledge, and maybe even expectation, giving individuals living in Buckingham Palace access to much more than meets the eye.

  • An ATM In The Basement Is Exclusively For The Royal Family

    In the basement of Buckingham Palace, a Coutts bank ATM gives members of the royal family access to cash at any time. Queen Elizabeth II is said to never carry cash, but because the palace serves as both a royal residence and the site of matters of state, the royals are regularly present.

    Coutts, one of the oldest banks in the world, serves the highest echelons of society including the Queen Mother, who passed in 2002. The Queen Mother once overdrew 4 million pounds from the bank, although not from the ATM, which was installed in 2001.  

  • Some Staff Are Expected To Eat And Sleep At The Palace, Essentially Living There 

    Buckingham Palace has 188 staff bedrooms - small quarters where workers sleep while on duty. When Buckingham Palace advertised for a housekeeping assistant in 2016, the position included staying at the palace full-time, sleeping and eating while working an unspecified number of hours. Perks of a job at Buckingham Palace include exclusive phone packages and car leasing discounts.

    Positions at Buckingham Palace come with extensive training, with everyone from telephone operators to butlers learning how to deliver "extraordinary service in incredible surroundings."

  • Photo: Ricardo Stuckert/PR / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0 BR

    The Queen May Just Wander Into The Room 

    Former Buckingham Palace butler Richard Kerrigan recalled an unexpected encounter with the queen. He was standing and walking on a 180-person table to fix a flower arrangement when the queen walked in. Unable to speak to the monarch unless approached by her, he continued his task, thinking it was "quite a normal thing, but she's checking to make sure everything suits her... With the events, we see her all the time."

    Not being able to talk to the queen was only one of the rules Kerrigan had to follow as a palace butler. He once got caught trying to take a picture inside the palace, which is strictly forbidden, and during dinner service, he and the other servers watched the "green and... red traffic light system" to see when they were allowed to leave and enter the room.

    Discretion and protocol are maintained at all times. Simon Morgan, Royal Protection Officer from 2006 to 2013, echoed this sentiment when he recalled his time at the palace. He was both in awe of and deferential about being allowed into "places you wouldn’t normally have access to," he said, continuing:

    You are very fortunate to be in these positions, to travel by private charter, or travel first class, or to be on super-yachts, or to eat in some of the nicest restaurants the world can offer, but it’s just a job. You go back to your two-up two-down home and life carries on. Your environment might change but you remember you are still a police officer, employed by the Met Police.

  • Staple Foods Like Special K And Nuts Are On Hand

    Queen Elizabeth II keeps a regular meal routine, enjoying tea, cereal - especially Special K - fruit, and eggs in the mornings. She generally stays away from starches but doesn't avoid alcohol. Elizabeth drinks in moderation, enjoying gin and wine throughout the day.

    The queen also has bowls of nuts around the palace to snack on, and is adamant about protecting them for herself. As a result of unapproved snacking, palace police officers were warned to "keep their sticky fingers out" of her nuts. 

    Elizabeth also enjoys tabasco sauce, Walkers shortbread, and chocolate, items likely to be found in the palace when she is in residence.