Forget Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs. This week, we have had a glimpse
behind the scenes of a real-life royal household, with the news that The
Queen has been advertising for someone to remove chewing gum from the floors
and furniture at Holyrood House.
Her Majesty’s chosen cleaner must be available to prise pink goo off parquet
for four hours a day, five days a week (including Sundays), on a part-time
salary based on a rate of £15,912 per year.
The successful applicant will also be required to perform more conventional,
less adhesive-related tasks, namely the making of royal beds and the
laundering of royal linen.
But if the combination of Febreze and Juicy Fruit is not to your liking, there
are, it emerges, plenty of other royal opportunities up for grabs.
And the place to look is not the small ads section of local newspapers in the
Balmoral or Windsor areas. Instead, visit the website www.royal.gov.uk
and you will find yourself being ushered through the virtual drawbridge of
not only Holyrood and Buckingham Palaces, but every other royal location in
Britain. Type the word “jobs” in the search box, and you are sitting, in
effect, in the regal employment exchange.
What’s more, there are plenty of vacancies that need filling. Posts currently
Sous chef (45 hours per week, salary £25,000). Based at Buckingham
Palace. There’s no more important job than feeding the royal family and
their guests. Poisoning a visiting president because you forgot to look at
the sell-by date on the venison is going to land you in the same kind of hot
water in which you normally boil eggs. It’s about the same level of
responsibility as the person who used to have to roll over the monarch’s bed
pre-sleep, just to make sure there weren’t any swords sticking out.
This could be your workplace
Recruitment adviser (37.5 hours per week, salary £30-35,000, plus
“rewards package”). Based at Buckingham Place but responsibilities across
Impress your friends by telling them you’re employed in the Privy Purse and
Treasurer’s Office. You’ll need a degree plus the ability to recruit
everyone from helicopter pilots to building conservators. There’ll be no
time to put up your golden slippers; as well looking after the 1200 staff on
the permanent payroll, you have to take on 400 summer-only workers for the
Staff restaurant operations manager (45 hours a week, salary £28,000). You’ll
hardly have time for a sandwich, you’ll be so busy in this role. Not only
will you be an integral part of the Master of the Household’s Office, you
will also be a key figure in F Branch (hush-hush, it’s rumoured to stand for
Food). You must be “hands-on”, “a good communicator” and able to butter
sandwiches while working out next week’s menus. Unlike Cinderella, you won’t
be stuck in the kitchen doing drudge work, either; for three months of the
year, you will be taking your catering skills on tour.
Back of house manager (40 hours a week, salary £26-30,000). Windsor
Castle. You may not get the same face-to-face time with world leaders as
your front-of-house colleagues, but you will be doing the kind of unsung,
nuts-and-bolts work keeping WC (that’s Windsor Castle) in good order. It’s
up to you to boss around builders, electricians and window cleaners, as well
as carrying out a rolling programme of repairs and improvements (the palace
has been occupied for 1,000 years; there is bound to be wear-and-tear).
Retail assistant (average of 38.37 hours per week, salary £15,263).
Windsor Castle. Your job is to “ensure that all our visitors from around the
world leave with both amazing memories and a souvenir of their visit”. You
will also be required to “have a flexible approach to the requirements of
the role”. Which means not making a fuss when asked to work late.
Work at Windsor Castle – it beats stacking shelves in the supermarket
Superintendent, Windsor Castle (37.5 hours, salary described as
“competitive”). Reading between the lines, you have to be the iron fist
within the jewelled glove. This, says the job description, is “a unique and
challenging role”. You may not be able to throw troublesome employees into
the dungeons, but you definitely aren’t going to take lip from anybody. Not
even the corgis. There aren’t many job ads these days which require the
applicant to have “gravitas”.
That said, it’s not all hard work, being a royal retainer. There are plenty of
perks on offer: a film club once a month in the Buckingham Palace private
cinema, an annual staff quiz, plus all kids of sports clubs (football,
cricket, golf) and less strenuous activities such as bingo and themed walks.
What’s more, you don’t have to keep your place of work a secret, unlike MI5.
Featured on the royal website are numerous employees talking about how much
they enjoy not just the staff barbecues, but their work.
Liveried keeper Ellen Fuller, for example, talks enthusiastically about how
she takes the royal horse out for a ride at 6.50am, before giving them their
breakfast, having her own breakfast, and then spending the day cleaning and
exercising her four-hoofed charge.
Meanwhile, warden Georgina Sharpe talks about how lovely the palace lunches
are, and speaks highly of the post-work socialising (“There is usually
something going on, to join in with”). There’s even a bike club, comprising
palace employees who cycle to work, rather than taking public transport
(well, the boss doesn’t, so why should they?).
And, of course, once you’re in, there are all manner of career paths to take.
Fancy being the Windsor Castle fendersmith (main task lighting the fire in
the Oak Room), or the castle flagman (raising the royal standard as soon as
the Queen comes through the front door). Alternatively, you can start at
ground level, dragging the gravel three times a day, so that it always looks
its best – or go for less heavy duties, such as the two horological
consultants, whose job it is to wind up 350 palace clocks and watches.
If you think you’re ready for royal service, send an e-mail to [email protected],
and if you get an interview, take along a copy of this article. It’ll show
you’ve done your homework.
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