I used to work for the Queen — now I live in a bug-infested home that reeks of urine

A former member of the Queen’s household said she now lives in a bug-infested home — that reeks of urine.

Ex Royal clerk Hazel Speed, 73, has been reduced to washing from a bucket after a leak from a botched toilet repair left her London home “uninhabitable”.  

She claims the leak means her rental house in Bexley, south-east London constantly smells of urine – with the entire property waterlogged and bug-infested.  

The pensioner says she has been forced to sleep under coats in a recliner chair for months on end – and has been left ill from the cold, damp, and stench.  

Hazel Speed’s home has become infested with bugs. Charles Thomson / Newsquest / SW

Hazel, who used to work as a clerk at the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, has lived in the home for over 30 years.  

But her landlord, Mountview Estates PLC, has still so far failed to rectify the nightmare.  

Hazel said: “I’ve come to the end of my tether sleeping here in the smell of urine. 

“The water stopped leaking in on May 2, but before that, it had been pouring down non-stop for about eight or nine weeks.” 

Hazel says the problem began in winter, which left the house freezing cold and damp, but even summer has brought its own problems.  

“Now that the weather’s warmer, the stench is terrible,” she explained.  

Speed has been reduced to washing from a bucket after a leak from a botched toilet repair left her London home “uninhabitable”.   Charles Thomson / Newsquest / SW

“It’s drying it out, which is good in one way, but there are bugs crawling out of the carpet and I wake up with the smell.  

“I had the fan on all last night but I felt I could vomit.”  

In the 1970s and 1980s, Hazel worked in the royal department which administers state honours – making her part of “The Queen’s Household”.

She said she once had lunch with Lady Diana, shortly before her marriage to the now King Charles. 

In addition to her day job, Hazel was also secretary of the Royal Household Film Society. Her leaving party was held in the Buckingham Palace cinema.  

In 1977, she was awarded a Silver Jubilee Medal by Queen Elizabeth II and received glowing references from Buckingham Palace, commending her accuracy, dedication and popularity. 

The walls and ceilings in Speed’s home now have black and brown staining, with mould visible beneath the peeling wallpaper.   Charles Thomson / Newsquest / SW

She left work in 1984 to emigrate to Canada but later returned to the UK to become a full-time carer to her elderly mother, who also lived in the Bexley home.  

The walls and ceilings in Hazel’s home now have black and brown staining, with mould visible beneath the peeling wallpaper.  

Her carpets are soaking – making them slippery and dangerous – and she says she is unable to walk anywhere without shoe protectors.  

“It’s dangerous,” she said. “Someone went flying down [the stairs] the other day.

“And God knows what I’m breathing in. It’s like working in a cigarette factory.  

“I’ve collapsed in that kitchen before.” 

At one point, Hazel said she felt so ill that she walked to the local high street looking for help. 

The walls leaked for weeks, causing mildw and mold throughout the space. Charles Thomson / Newsquest / SW

A good Samaritan helped her move her belongings – including her prized keepsakes from her time working for the royals – into unaffected rooms.  

Now, most of her possessions are in her bedroom and dining room – which means she lives in the lounge.  

In there, she has set her fridge and kettle up, and her bathroom – which she uses sparingly – has plastic sheeting covering its floor.  

“It’s no way for anyone to live,” the 73-year-old said. 

Hazel’s landlord, Mountview Estates PLC, were approached for comment via email on May 8 but did not respond.  

On May 14, a staff member – who would not give their name – said by phone: “It’s something we wouldn’t comment on.” 

But that same day, Hazel said she received a visit from the landlord to discuss beginning to fix the problems. 

She is now hopeful that things may start to improve.