The strange test housekeepers must pass to work for the Queen at Sandringham

The Queen usually spends most of the winter at her Sandringham estate

the queen in blue hat
(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

It’s surely no surprise that the staff employed to work for the Queen and the Royal Family are the best of the best—including at Sandringham, where the monarch usually spends Christmas and a large part of the winter.

When it comes to Her Majesty’s traditional Christmas celebrations at her Norfolk home, Sandringham, the housekeeping staff chosen to keep the royal estate spick and span must pass a rather bizarre test.

In the Channel 5 documentary Sandringham: The Royals at Christmas, royal recruitment expert Tracey Waterman revealed exactly how she hand-picks the best members of staff to work at the country estate.

Tracey’s enlistment process isn’t a simple interview followed by a trial shift of making beds and cleaning silverware.

The ultimate test to check if someone is fit to keep a royal house clean is based on flawless attention to detail, and involves a dead fly.

In the programme, which delves into the finest details of royal life, Tracey said, “The difference between a housekeeper in a five-star hotel and in a royal palace would be attention to detail.

“One of the tests I like to do, to see if a candidate has potential eye for detail, is to place a dead fly, either in the fireplace or on the carpet,” she added.

“Once the dead fly is placed, I then bring the candidate into the room. I lead them into the room, quite slowly, just giving them a chance to glance at the room, have a little look at what we’ve got inside the room.

“Bringing them to the fireplace, maybe highlighting that we’ve got a beautiful fireplace.”

If the fly is spotted by the candidate, the next part of the test is to see how they deal with the dead insect.

“At this point I’d expect them to see the dead fly, and hopefully pick it up.

“It’s a great test, maybe out of 10 people half the candidates will notice the fly. One out of ten will actually bend down and pick it up, that’s the special housekeeper!”