We worked at Buckingham Palace

Considering it’s the Queen’s official London residence, we’ve always imagined the day-to-day happenings at Buckingham Palace running like a well-oiled machine.

But in Channel 5’s new documentary series Secrets of Buckingham Palace, former workers and royal historians say that’s not exactly the case.

A new Channel 5 documentary has delved into the mysteries of the palace


A new Channel 5 documentary has delved into the mysteries of the palacePhoto credit: Getty
The Queen has an ATM, doctor's office and swimming pool at her London residence


The Queen has an ATM, doctor’s office and swimming pool at her London residence

Despite being one of the most famous buildings in the world, Buckingham Palace has reportedly struggled with a rodent problem since the 1830s.

Professor Kate Williams said of the Palace’s rat residents: “When Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace, she was shocked at how many rats there were.

“Rats treated Buckingham Palace like their own personal playground.

“Victoria tried to stop it, but it ended up being quite a struggle.”

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“It got so bad that Victoria had to appoint her own Pied Piper and his title was Jack Black VR – Her Majesty’s Pied Piper and Mole Catcher.”

Unfortunately, the expert was not able to completely eradicate the rats, and the historian said the Queen Mother practiced shooting at the rodents during World War II.

Kate added: “She’s been practicing what to do in case Hitler invades and she’s kidnapped – she’s got a gun and she shot it in that crumpled part of Buckingham Palace […]

“As recently as 2019, exterminators were called in after rats were seen scurrying through the royal kitchens.”

In addition, there are exactly 775 rooms at Buckingham Palace – including some secret areas where the 800 staff can relax.

As well as a post office and chapel, the Queen also has her own ATM should she need some cash.

Former Queen’s spokesman Dickie Arbiter said of his 10 years at the palace: “When I worked there I used them [swimming pool] every day but then after a while I gave up because Princess Margaret was using it.

“There used to be a staff bar, which was abolished a few years ago because the staff wore out a bit during the day.”

Royal expert Susie Boniface said: “There is a doctor’s office that is equipped for emergency surgical procedures.”

So, considering the size of the royal residence, it’s not surprising that the Queen also has some secret passages to make getting around easier.

Prince Charles’ former butler Grant Harrold said: “I remember once watching the Queen walking towards what I thought was a mirror and thinking, ‘What is she going to do? ‘

“She walked towards it and it opened up and she walked through it.”

In 2020, a Good Morning Britain special filmed at the Palace captured this secret passageway into the occupied White Drawing Room, which leads to the Queen’s private apartments.

Anna Reynolds, curator of the Royal Collection True, said: “When the Queen meets guests, they often queue for her here in the music room so she can meet.

“It allows her to make an entrance without having to go through all the different palace rooms.”

Exterminators were called in in 2019 to tackle a rat problem in the kitchen that dates back to the 1830s


Exterminators were called in in 2019 to tackle a rat problem in the kitchen that dates back to the 1830s We worked at Buckingham Palace

Jessica MacLeish

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