Life behind the Palace doors – former Royal staffer on working for the Queen, from ‘very lovely’ way of connecting with staff to the one thing she hates the most

Ever wondered what life behind Palace doors was like? This royal staffer shares a glimpse…

What life behind palace doors is like, according to an ex-footman
(Image credit: Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)

A former footman for the Royal Family has shared what life was like behind palace doors. Steven Kaye offers up insight into how the Queen can relax etiquette on occasion, how she puts her staff and guests at ease, and the one thing that she doesn’t tolerate.


Former royal footman Steven Kaye has shared plenty of exclusive insight into life behind palace doors, from the Queen’s favorite residence (“Without a doubt… Windsor”), who the staff’s favorite guest was (“Joan Collins”) and much more.

In his interview with Slingo (opens in new tab), Steven was asked about the daunting moment of being introduced to your new boss… who just happens to be the Queen.

Anyone meeting the longest-serving monarch in British history is bound to be nervous, but it turns out Her Majesty has a “really lovely” way of putting you at ease.

Life at the Palace has been teased by a former royal footman

(Image credit: Pawel Libera/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Steven explains how Her Majesty learns titbits about her staff, and will relax the situation with relatable chit-chat.

On meeting the Queen for the first time, he says, “Two days after I moved in, I was taken to Windsor Castle by car to go and meet the Queen and be introduced as her new Royal footman. I was shown how to bow and you go in, bow your head from the head down never by the waist, with your hands by your side and you only speak once the Queen has spoken to you first.”

“She said welcome to the Royal household, I’m looking forward to seeing you next week and she had obviously been briefed about my mother who is a machinist… They have the Royal warrant of appointment for providing soft furniture to the Royal household and the Queen spoke about how she knew my mother was working for a Royal warranted company.”

“She’s obviously briefed to make you feel at ease and like she knows something about you. It was really lovely.” 

The Queen has a 'really lovely' way of putting people at ease

(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

As for how relaxed and down-to-earth she really can be, Steven describes how Her Majesty is prone to dropping the airs and graces around certain company.

Detailing a time when the staff was waiting for the Queen to come back from a drive around Balmoral, he says,” The Queen walks in, she has a pheasant in one hand and a gun in the other, she puts them in the corner, puts the dogs in this pen.”

Then, when Her Majesty sits to dine, Steven explains “…what I found interesting is that she sat with her elbows on the table as she was eating. I just didn’t expect that.”

“You’ve always had that etiquette rule, ‘elbows off the table’, but if it’s good enough for the Queen, then it’s good enough for all of us. I think it’s her way of making her guests feel relaxed. She’d always sit there and pick at the food with her elbows on the table.”

The Queen is known to relax her rules when out and about in Balmoral

(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

As for the one thing Her Majesty doesn’t put up with? “Sloppiness.”

Steven explains, “…with any job where there has to be perfection, there’s always going to be a lot of mistakes. But, as long as you correct those mistakes quickly, I don’t think the Queen really minds. She doesn’t like sloppiness, so given that it’s an accident and not deliberate, she’s usually OK.”

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.


Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.