A household fit for a queen: Princess Diana butler launches classes on how to keep a house
A butler who once served the Royal family has started up a course on how to run a household fit for a queen. Christopher Ely will teach the tricks of the trade which have seen
him wait on Princess Diana and American socialite Brooke Astor amongst dozens of other wealthy clients. A self-confessed perfectionist, he will teach the perfect way to iron -
take no less than 20 minutes - and how to pick the right soap - he goes through a dozen before finding the right one. Other lessons on the curriculum include the correct time to make a bed and how to get out the most stubborn of stains. Mr Ely has been a butler to the rich and famous for 30 years and decided to start the course because he was ‘tired of bad service’. He hopes to educate maids and butlers - not to mention the odd housewife - in the correct and proper ways to do things around the home.Among his most precise instructions are those for ironing, which he learned from Mark Fairweather, a former footman who worked with him at Buckingham Palace.
Fairweather himself learned from the great Stanley Ager, who wrote The Butler’s Guide to Clothes Care, Managing the Table, Running the Home, and Other Graces, which has served as the bible for traditional butlers since it was published in 1981.
Mr Ely told the New York Times: ‘Ironing, it’s an art, and I think it’s dying out. It takes half a brain to do it, and the other half is free to roam.’ He plans to give students two full days on the proper way to iron and will explain that it is best to use a Rowenta Pro Master and a Teflon ironing board - and take no less than 20 minutes to get it right.
Mr Ely's clients included American socialite Brooke Astor and Princess Diana among dozens of other wealthy and high-profile people
His other advice is that beds should not be made immediately after somebody has got up but instead a short time later to allow the sleeper’s sweat to dry. Meat tenderiser, it turns out, is good for removing blood stains from cotton. And by the end of the course students will also be able to tell the difference between distilled and de-ionized water and their effects
on fabric. Ely started his career as a butler for the Royal family in the early 1980s and worked at both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. In 1984 he moved to America and eventually worked for Brooke Astor until she died in 2007 when he was fired by her son who went on to raid her estate for his own means. The episode left him scarred and he has been off the radar for a number of years, but now has come back.
© 2018 Christopher Ely. All rights reserved.
Published by the New York Times