Queen Elizabeth II’s Former Employee Reveals How Living at Buckingham Palace Is Like ‘Downton Abbey’

Buckingham Palace in London is Queen Elizabeth II‘s official working residence. It also where the monarch has lived most of her life and raised her children. The palace has 828,000 square feet of living space and boasts 775 rooms. Those include 19 staterooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 bedrooms for staffers, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms. 

Many people dream of what it would be like to live in such a place. Well now Queen Elizabeth’s former chef, Darren McGrady, is giving insight on that. Read on to find out what he said about living in the famed palace and why he compared it to the TV drama Downton Abbey.

(L) Queen Elizabeth II, (R)  Darren McGrady
Queen Elizabeth II| Pool/Anwar Hussein Collection/WireImage, (R) Former royal chef Darren McGrady | Aaron Lynett/Toronto Star via Getty Images

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Queen’s former chef compares Buckingham Palace to ‘Downton Abbey’

McGrady cooked for the queen for more than a decade before he became Princess Diana’s personal chef. But when he worked at the Buckingham Palace all those years he also lived there.

“I had a room at the palace. When I lived there, it was roomed very much like a show called Downtown Abbey,” McGrady said in an interview with Insider. “We had the male kitchen wing, the female kitchen wing, the footmen’s floor, the housemaids’ floor, and you weren’t allowed on the different floors.”

McGrady added, “If you were a chef or a footman and you were trying to sneak up to the housemaids’ floor and you got caught, you were in serious trouble. Everyone was segregated, it was the done thing. We were part of the Victorian era. You couldn’t even begin to imagine single males and single females being on the same floor together.”

Highclere Castle, filming location of 'Downton Abbey'
Highclere Castle, filming location of ‘Downton Abbey’ | David Goddard / Contributor

McGrady also said it was like living in a hotel

But the TV series isn’t all the former royal chef compared life at Buckingham Palace to. He also said it was staying at a hotel.

“Being a servant there, we had our own room but you never even made your own bed in the morning. Each floor had its own cleaning lady that would come in and make the beds, change the towels [and] give you soap,” he explained. “It was like a hotel, an institution.”

He described that as a major perk saying, “You can see why people stayed there for 30 years or more because you were given everything you needed. What you were paid was just pocket money.”

Rodents and asbestos have been problems at the palace

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace | Oli Scarff/Getty Images

While the palace is often thought of as this grand, luxurious place it has a number of issues which is why some members of the queen’s family aren’t big fans of it.

A few years back asbestos had to be removed and prior to that, there was a rodent problem and pest control had to be called in. When the latter issue was made public a palace spokesperson released a statement that said, “The ratio of mice to men is very low.”

The building is also very old and these days it’s undergoing extensive renovations to upgrade things like the electrical cabling, plumbing, and heating which haven’t updated since the 1950s

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