Here in America, civil service jobs are often considered to be a pillar of middle-class living. Civil service jobs come with great benefits, more job security than the private sector and general economic stability. I feel like royal-service jobs are probably seen the same way in Britain – the jobs don’t pay very well, but the jobs come with great benefits (royal housing, personal gifts from the Queen) and relative stability. Except for right now. Apparently, the Queen just went and fired four of her senior officials in what is presumed to be a “cost-cutting measure” because their jobs were redundant. Whoa. Apparently, morale is at “rock-bottom” at Buckingham Palace.
Buckingham Palace is believed to have axed at least four of the Queen’s senior officials in the last few months, despite them being long-serving employees. The employees, some of whom have young families, allegedly faced leaving their Royal Household homes without anywhere else to live. The redundancies are to be part of sweeping cost-cutting measures throughout the Palace, according to reports.
According to a source inside the palace, morale was at “rock-bottom – the worst I have ever known” among the royal employees. Another said: “The Queen knows they have been made redundant, although she is probably not aware of just how badly her staff have been treated in the process.”
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said costs were constantly reviewed and in “rare instances” staff were made redundant, but strongly denied claims of low morale. She declined to comment on whether at least four officials had been axed or if porters were no longer being paid for overtime. She said: “As a public institution, scrutinised by Parliament, the Royal Household constantly reviews structures and staffing to ensure that it is run in the most effective and efficient way possible. In rare instances this can involve redundancies; those affected are routinely offered a severance package and support, including retraining.”
Last year the Public Accounts Committee accused the Royal Household of “mismanaging” its finances. The Queen received £37.9 million in public funding from The Sovereign Grant this year, from which she must cover the cost of official duties on behalf of the nation as well as run her official residences. The Palace spokeswoman said that internal surveys “consistently show that employees are proud to work for the Royal Household and represent the Queen. Morale at Buckingham Palace continues to be high, with low staff turnover.”
Another source within the Palace told the Daily Mail that other senior staff may have left of their own accord because of concerns over the “restructuring”. The source said: “Staff are rarely made redundant… so to see four people go in almost as many months is shocking.”
The newspaper also reported that the Buckingham Palace’s porters have had their overtime stopped as part of the cuts but are still being expected to undertake the same level of work.
The cries of financial mismanagement came around the same time last year that reports came out about the actual cost of the renovation to Kensington Palace Apartment 1, which is Prince William and Kate’s London residence. Will and Kate blew through £4 million just for the KP renovation with the understand that they would live there close to full time, so obviously as soon as the renovation was done, they declared that they would be living at Anmer Hall full-time. The Queen actually put off several much-needed renovations to BP and other royal residences so that KP could be finished quickly for Will and Kate.
As for these fired senior staffers… I have no doubt that they were redundant. I also have little doubt that the royal households and offices of both the Queen and the Prince of Wales are bloated, redundant messes, and that Charles is likely trying to phase out some of his mother’s courtiers and phase in some of his own. And I also have no doubt that in this transition period, and given the consistent leaks about William and Kate’s work-shy ways, there IS a morale problem overall in all of the royal staffs.
Photos courtesy of WENN.