The British Monarchy is so massive that it needs a lot of manpower to keep it in top shape, and this includes gardeners, electricians, plumbers, chefs, footmen, housekeepers, etc. Let’s take a look at how these employees keep the palace up and running and how you can do it, too, with the help of a private staffing agency.
Why do the British monarchies need a staff?
The British Monarchy isn't just the Queen, you know? While most of us are familiar with the faces of key family members, there is more to the royal family than meets the eye. There's the Queen herself? Check. Prince Charles and his sons William and Harry? Yes. Duchess Kate Middleton and her sister Pippa? You better believe it. The Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips (daughter of Princess Anne)?
We've seen them all on TV a million times. However, there are countless other working members of the royal household whom you may not have heard of, including cousins Beatrice and Eugenie (the daughters of Prince Andrew).
The person in charge of all those folks under the umbrella term "royal household" is actually the Lord Chamberlain's Office (LCO). Each member of the royal household has their own staff who take care of tasks like scheduling appearances, doing research for speeches or events, writing letters on behalf of their employers, and carrying out charitable work or public duties when appropriate.
The Lord Chamberlain's Office oversees this whole system to make sure things run smoothly, but they also handle more personal matters as well: they hire staff for royals; they sort out where everyone will live; and they make certain that new people entering royal households know how to adhere to protocol regarding etiquette, security risks, general protocol & behaviour in public settings (and behind closed doors), etc
The royal households are separated into departments
If you have ever watched Downton Abbey, you know that all the downstairs activity of a royal household takes place in different departments (think kitchens, housekeeping, and so on). The royal households are actually divided into departments, each with its own department head.
Each department has a different responsibility within the royal household. For example, the visitor's department is responsible for welcoming and escorting visitors of the Royal Family to their various events. The British Monarchy website has an entire page dedicated to providing information on each department, including a detailed breakdown of its responsibilities and personnel.
Some of these departments are more high-profile than others; for instance, the Royal Household at Buckingham Palace is comprised of four key departments:
- The Lord Chamberlain's Office: Responsible for organizing royal events such as garden parties and state banquets
- The Royal Collection Trust: Responsible for managing finances for the Royal Family
- The Master of the Household's Department: Responsible for organizing meals at Palace functions and maintaining dining rooms at Buckingham Palace
- The Comptroller’s Department: Responsible for overseeing staff who work in Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace has its own post office, chapel, and police station
It is no surprise that Buckingham Palace has its own post office, chapel, and police station. The Palace is a small city; it contains everything you would expect in a larger city: pools, gyms, cafes, and an underground car park. It even boasts its own post office and police station (and those are just to start). All of these services have managers who are responsible for their upkeep and maintenance. The manager of the pool might very well be in charge of the gym as well.
The managers of these various services interact on a regular basis as they work toward keeping things running smoothly at the palace; this is especially important when hosting large events or ensuring that visitors have everything they need during their stay. These services are only available to Palace staff members though; visitors do not have access to them.
The palace employs 1133 people
Buckingham Palace currently houses 1133 as its staff to make sure that the offices, gardens, clubs, and other properties are maintained and the official duties are taken care of.
The day-to-day running of the household demands a complex organisation, with departments divided into seven professional and operational groups. These include administration, finance, information technology, property services, royal travel, royal household police and the royal mews.
Some jobs are really social, some are really private
The royal family does not employ all of the same types of staff. Some jobs require a high degree of interaction with the public and others require a high degree of privacy. Likewise, some jobs require interacting with other staff members while others do not.
One job that is highly private is the Keeper of the Privy Purse, who ensures that expenditures fit within the budget and works solely for The Queen in handling personal finances. Sir Michael Stevens currently holds this title and the responsibilities that come along with it.
A different type of job is that held by a Page of Honour, which involves a great deal of interaction with both other staff members and members of the public. Pages accompany The Queen to ceremonies where they are seen by onlookers but they also assist footmen by carrying messages between rooms at Buckingham Palace, therefore interacting exclusively with other staff members in more private settings.
There are also positions that involve neither interaction with others nor exposure to public view; these include The Royal Librarian and The Keeper of The Queen's Music. These two people possess specialized skills that allow them to attend to their duties independently among several thousand books and musical scores, respectively.
Some roles on the team have little outward visibility but do involve extensive interaction between staff members; this is true for those who work as gardeners on any one of four properties owned by Her Majesty: Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, Sandringham House, or Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
All four gardens are also surveyed daily year-round (weather permitting) so gardeners work together regularly though their interactions occur largely beyond public view due to the physical distance from visitors' areas at these palaces and castles
Half the staff lives in
While the Queen and her family are actually present in the palace, they rely heavily on their staff to help them out in a variety of ways. The Royal Family does enjoy their privacy when possible, but this means that more than half of the staff live in rooms within the palace. They make up for it by having their own dining room, complete with a chef who prepares three meals a day for all of them. They also have their own gym and leisure facilities that often include spa options.
There’s a strict hierarchy
You might enjoy watching the Royal Family come together for events like weddings, coronations and jubilees. But you have to remember that, behind the scenes, they are always surrounded by members of the staff. And it is not just anyone who can work at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle. There are strict rules to follow and a clear hierarchy in place. It takes a lot of discipline and attention to detail, but that’s what makes things run smoothly on these special occasions.
The dress code is very specific, depending on your position in the royal household. For example, if you are an equerry – an officer attending to a member of the royal family – you will wear a blue tailcoat with gold braiding and buttons when accompanying your employer on formal visits.
Other staff members wear more modern clothes to blend in with the crowd outside so they can keep watch over the entrances to buildings. Others work behind closed doors in offices where no visitors would see them anyway!
Everyone has their role to play – from footmen bringing drinks around on silver trays during state banquets, right through to chefs preparing meals for hundreds of guests and housekeepers making sure everything runs smoothly inside stately homes where foreign dignitaries are staying as guests of Her Majesty The Queen while they visit London during official overseas trips and engagements abroad by members of the Royal Family
Private staffing requires excellent management
Private staffing is an art, and those in charge of managing the staff of the British monarchy are true masters. With a staff that consists of more than 1100 people, it is essential for Buckingham Palace to be able to manage these employees using a system that ensures efficiency. And they can do so because they can afford to splurge on maintaining a private staff.
Published by Samantha Brown