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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Royal Household

Paul Burrell, Diana’s former butler, published a book “A Royal Duty” in 2003 which chronicled his life and service in the royal household. He arrived in Buckingham Palace as an 18 year-old lad to work as under-butler, later on he was chosen to become a personal footman of the Queen. He married Maria, a personal maid of the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen's husband.

In 1987, Paul and Maria were personally hired by the Prince and Princess of Wales and moved to the Waleses’ country estate in High grove, a 1,100 square kilometers private property of Prince Charles in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, England. When the royal couple separated in 1992, Mr. Burrell was hired by the Princess of Wales as her butler in Kensington Palace where he remained loyal until Diana’s death in 1997.

The late Princess of Wales described Paul as her “Rock” and “the man she can only trust” aside of course from Prince William.

 Paul Burrell and the late Princess of Wales, Diana

Burrell revealed in his book how the royal household run. Here are some of the details.

The royal household are divided into two groups: The Upper and the Lower Household and each position is as complicated as its role in the lives of the royal family. The upper household is occupied by gentlemen and ladies who are serving the British court as royal equerry, private secretary, press secretary, ladies-in-waiting, women of the bed chamber and governess, these are usually occupied by people born with noble blood or with royal pedigree.

Lower household is occupied by royal servants with plain status, this includes Butler, footmen, hairdresser, personal maids, body guards. According to Paul Burrell, servants in the "lower household"are not supposed to look eye to eye with the royal family members while they eat. While the state dining room is occupied by the royals, servants struggled to make the process of delivering foods-almost ceremonial-in the proper order.

The food is delivered to their table in a cue; the footmen who are assigned to serve the food directly to the table usually received the tray from the lowest order of servants normally newly hired footmen. The butler is in charged of the pantry-the area where the kitchen utensils are kept and where the food usually stored. They are directly under the command of the Master of the Household who instructed them with their responsibilities.

Buckingham Palace is an official London residence of the British ruling sovereign and as what Paul Burrell puts it, “a foreign village in the middle of the bustling city of London”. This crown property is run by an organization called The Royal household headed by the Lord Chamberlain.
 

Below are the top ten important positions and job titles of the members of the royal household.
UPPER HOUSEHOLD

Private secretary- the most powerful and enviable position in the royal household. A private secretary served as the sovereign’s eye and ear and directly involves in running the monarchy. He made sure, the monarchy appears regal and dignified by protecting the crown from controversies and scandals. In Britain, one of the longest-serving private secretaries of the Queen is Lord Robert Fellowes, a descendant of King Charles II and Princess Diana's brother-in-law (husband of her sister, Lady Jane). The Queen made him a British Baron after his retirement in 1999. The Queen's current private secretary is the Rt.Honorable Christopher Geidt.

Royal Equerry- a courtier who accompanied the King or Queen on official royal tour. The courtiers are responsible in planning and promoting goodwill of the Kingdom, they served as protectors of the Kingdom.

Lady-in-waiting-usually occupied by a woman of noble birth. A Lady-in-waiting functioned as personal assistant of the senior female royals.  Diana's maternal grandmother, Lady Ruth Fermoy, had served at one point as Lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother.

Woman of the Bed Chamber- usually occupied by a Duchess or a daughter of an Earl, she is in-charge of the social engagement of the Queen or the Queen Consort. This is one of the most important positions in the British royal household because it has a direct and regular access to the monarch.
Secretary of the Privy purse- Take charge of the finances of the royal household, including the budget and the bill payments. It is a common fact that royal family members never bring cash or credit cards with them. If they needed something and gone out to the department store to buy or shop, their billing would go directly to the secretary of the privy purse.
Press secretary- Take charge of the news conference and other news -related job in the palace. A press secretary coordinates with the media and responsible for furnishing news papers and magazines with the court circular.
LOWER HOUSEHOLD
Master Steward-arranged and organized the schedule of the servants, especially the Kitchen servants. Footmen and butlers directly reports to him.

Butler-in charge of the household’s pantry, he usually opens the door and serve the food of the royals.
Valet-personal dresser of a male royal equivalent to a dresser of a female royal
Personal maid-act as a housemaid (fixed the bedroom, run errands) of the royalty.
Hairdresser-female royals’ assistant, preparing their vanity for important engagements.
Footman – stands at the table while the royal family members dined. A footman is responsible of catering the errands of the royal family. The prescribed uniform is a scarlet navy blue tailored suits embossed with the monarchy’s motto and a crest bearing the sovereign’s name it has a matching black cap with gold tassle attached. Long serving footmen usually rode in a carriage with the Queen and her consort and heir during state occasions, tacking a long sword, to signify the ancient tradition of the knights protecting the royal family members.

Personal footman- the Queen usually has her personal footman. It functioned as the sovereign’s personal assistant, catering to all her personal needs from feeding and taking care of her 12 corgis down to the preparation of her meals.

The Lord Chamberlain, Ladies-in-waiting, Royal Equerry/Courtiers, Woman of the Bed chamber, private secretary, press secretary and Secretary of the privy purse are members of the household categorized as privileged. They occupied the highest ranking positions in the palace and they are treated as royalty as well. They have their own dining room covered with crimson carpet and linen clothing. Their food is served in silver wares and usually have expensive wines in their table.

The lower class of servants: Butler, footmen, under-footmen, valet, hairdressers and personal maids usually have their food served in china wares, they are required to wear their medieval themed scarlet uniform while on duty. They are not supposed to be seen by the royal family members working, they should be “invisible”, and if it’s too late to hide, the usual recourse is to face the wall and wait for the royals to pass the area. Royal palaces of Great Britain are not allowed to have alarm clocks and vacuum cleaner should be used only after 9:00 am to avoid disturbing the royal family.

The royal family members “wake up” style is as medieval as their traditions, according to Paul Burrell, the servants (usually footmen) will wake up a royal by bringing a fresh brewed tea with digestive biscuit in the bedroom and put in arm’s length beside the table. If the technique has no effect, the next move of the servant is to raise the curtain of the room to flood the area with sunshine.
Members of the royal household's compensation is often less than any ordinary employee received, but these individuals treated the opportunity working in the royal court as a lifetime privilege and the salary they received is merely a bonus. Aside from monthly compensation, they have pensions for retirement and a lifetime grace-and-favor apartment (rent-free) which they would be kept even after the royal service.

So that's the life of being a royal servant!











7 comments:

Royal Divorce said...

Amazing. How interesting the procedures put in place, and the behaviors to follow. The Royals are midevil in their fashions. It's no wonder something like a divorce is a fairly modern concept.

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quite interesting post. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did any one learn that some chinese hacker had busted twitter yesterday again.

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