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!”

Caitlin Elliott
Caitlin Elliott

Caitlin is Junior News Editor for woman&home, covering all things royal, celeb, fashion, beauty and lifestyle. 

Having set her sights on becoming a magazine journalist when she was a child, Caitlin took on work experience stints at local papers and titles such as Cosmopolitan, Now, Reveal and Take a Break while studying for her Multimedia Journalism degree and has interviews with celebs, reality stars and the Archbishop of Canterbury under her belt (of course, she couldn't resist asking him about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry). 

After leaving uni, she dabbled in fashion PR as a Press Assistant for Arcadia's Topshop before becoming a part of the Now team at Future for her first real job in the world of online journalism, joining the ranks as a Digital Writer in 2019. 

Caitlin went on to add the likes of Woman, GoodtoKnow, WhatToWatch and woman&home to her writing repertoire before moving on to her current role. 

When she's not working you'll find Caitlin sipping bubbles at brunch with her besties, thinking about her next iced coffee, trying to close the rings on her Apple Watch, scrubbing up on her royal family knowledge or scrolling through the Zara app, trying to resist tapping 'check out' again.