“‘Trust me, it’s not a shock for the household.’”
That was Grant Harrold, a former butler to King Charles III when he was still the Prince of Wales, telling the BBC it should come as no surprise that many of the new monarch’s personal staffers might not be joining him at Buckingham Palace.
This comes in response to reports that more than 100 staff members who’ve been serving King Charles III at his Clarence House residence in London could be laid off now that the new monarch and his wife, Camilla, the Queen Consort, are expected to move to Buckingham Palace.
The Guardian reported that the employees at the royal residence next to St. James’s Palace were “livid” and “shaken” after receiving a letter from the king’s top aide on Monday, while the U.K. was still in an official state of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II.
But Harrold, who once worked at the King’s family royal residence at Highgrove House, which is located in Gloucestershire, said he always knew that his job could become obsolete if his royal employer took the throne.
“When I joined, I was fully aware that if the Queen [Elizabeth] passed I would be redundant because my boss is no longer the Prince of Wales,” he said.
“‘When I joined, I was fully aware that if the Queen [Elizabeth] passed I would be redundant because my boss is no longer the Prince of Wales.’”
“The good thing is, I know they will do everything possible to make sure that people are put into positions where possible,” he added. What’s more, “there will be people that want to retire or want a change of career.”
Indeed, the redundancy notice shared by the king’s top aide on Monday said that royal staffers who are laid off will receive assistance in finding new jobs in other U.K. royal family households or elsewhere. They will also be offered an “enhanced” redundancy payment, which in the U.K. is typically a payout calculated on the basis of a laid-off worker’s wages and the length of their service.
There are just over 100 full-time staffers at Clarence House, according to the royal residence’s annual review from earlier this year. Those notified of possible layoffs on Monday, according to the Guardian report, include the staffs of the finance, communications and private secretaries’ offices, as well as the household staff. The 31 employees in the private secretaries’ office include private secretaries, administrators, researchers and equerry staff. About the same number handle finances in the treasurers’ department, and 12 people work in the communications office. The 28 members of the household staff include four chefs, five house managers, three valets and dressers, and several butlers. In comparison, the most recent sovereign grant report said that Queen Elizabeth II employed 491 full-time staff.
Anonymous sources reportedly told the Guardian that many of the Clarence House staff members had assumed that they would be folded into the king’s new Buckingham Palace household. “Everybody is absolutely livid, including private secretaries and the senior team,” one insider told the U.K. newspaper.
And Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) in the U.K. that represents some palace workers, told the Guardian that the timing was “callous in the extreme.”
“While some changes across the households were to be expected, as roles across the royal family change, the scale and speed at which this has been announced is callous in the extreme,” he said in full. “Least of all because we do not know what staffing the incoming Prince of Wales and his family might need.”
And the PCS also reportedly tweeted a statement saying, “The decision to announce redundancies in the #RoyalHousehold during the period of #mourning is nothing short of heartless.”
But the BBC reported that one reason for the seemingly heartless timing is that the king’s household was actually given legal advice that “required the information to be shared with staff at the earliest opportunity, despite efforts to delay until after the Queen’s funeral.”