With the death of Queen Elizabeth II comes the greatest period of institutional change for the British monarchy in over 70 years. It affects all systems and hierarchies, from the titles granted to members of the royal family to the job security of loyal members of staff.
Here, Pleasemynews answers a reader’s question about what happens to the late Queen’s household staff now that she is dead and what it means as King Charles III begins his reign.
The Royal Household is the name given to the collective staff members employed by members of the Royal Family.
Each senior member of the Royal Family employs their own individual staff who are grouped under the Royal Household employment structure.
Members of the family range from squires and private secretaries to maintenance staff at royal palaces, chefs, chauffeurs and cleaners.
The largest of the households belonged to Queen Elizabeth II with 491 full-time equivalent staff paid from the Sovereign Grant (money allocated to the monarch for running her official business) in the 2021-22 financial year.
The second largest household belonged to the former Prince of Wales, now King Charles III, with 101 full-time equivalent staff.
The main base for the Royal Household is Buckingham Palace with satellite hubs based at the primary residences of individual members of the Royal Family. When King Charles was Prince of Wales, his staff were based at St James’s Palace and Clarence House. The staff of her son Prince William, now Prince of Wales, is based at Kensington Palace.
Of the 491 full-time equivalent staff employed by Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Household in 2021-22, the largest number were employed within the Head of the House department. This group of people arranges private and official entertainment on behalf of the monarch at royal residences and includes caterers, florists, housekeepers, footmen, etc.
The outgoing master of the household at the time of the Queen’s death was Vice-Admiral Sir Tony Johnstone-Burt and he oversaw a number of the late monarch’s closest staff.
Among those staff were those included in “HMS Bubble”, the name given to the small number of personal servants and civil servants who have been in lockdown with the monarch during the COVID pandemic. The Queen’s personal footman and side of the stairway Paul “Tall Paul” Whybrew was part of the bubble and walked behind her coffin as it traveled from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall on Wednesday.
Perhaps the best-known member of the Queen’s personal staff was her dresser and friend, Angela Kelly.
Kelly has worked for the monarch for two decades, helping to design some of the most memorable outfits of her reign and even learning how to cut and style the queen’s hair during the pandemic.
Another prominent member of staff at the time of the Queen’s death was her private secretary, Sir Edward Young, who joined the royal household in 2004.
Young has advised the Queen during recent turmoil facing the royal family, including the Prince Andrew scandals and pandemic setbacks. The aide became a public interest figure in July 2022, during Prince Harry’s security trial against the UK government, when the royal’s lawyer revealed Harry had ‘significant tension’ with his grandmother’s secretary -mother.
With the death of the queen, this group of trusted aides and allies is expected to leave the royal household, although no confirmation of personnel changes has yet been given by the palace.
With the death of one monarch and the rise of another, the structure of the royal household faces an overhaul as two sets of staff merge.
The 491 staff working for the late Queen and the 101 staff working for King Charles at the time of his accession could find themselves at key times with redundancies expected on both sides.
Great Britain the The telegraph of the day reported on Monday that as a service of thanksgiving for the Queen’s life was held in Scotland, Charles’ staff received notices of possible redundancies, just four days into the new reign.
In a letter seen by the newspaper, the palace’s senior courtier, Sir Clive Alderton, who works with King Charles, wrote to staff: