Prince William’s new private secretary is known as an ‘astute penny-pincher’

Prince William meets with Chiefs of the PSNI, Fire Service and Ambulance Service in Belfast

One of the things I always find hard to understand is that the Windsors and the royal press attacked the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for being “too political” while the major royal offices have a steady stream of Tory Party members, and there’s a big exchange program going on between Downing Street and the palaces. Many of the Queen’s top advisors worked for the Conservative Party. Same with Prince Charles and now Prince William too. William in particular has always had issues retaining staff, so it’s even more notable when a Tory advisor comes in for a year to act as William’s private secretary (the equivalent of a chief of staff), then leaves in a storm of controversy.

So it was for Christian Jones, who oversaw so many of the Cambridges’ disasters in the past year and a half. Jones oversaw things like the Maskless Covid Choo Choo Tour, the absolute clown show tour of Ireland, and the “Catherine the Great” Tatler debacle. He was also spilling all the dirt to his lover, and then his lover was selling that information to Dan Wootton. Jones suspiciously resigned in January, just after Day 1 of the Duchess of Sussex’s summary judgment hearing, where he was named as one several staffers advising Meghan on the letter to her father. Now… William has yet another Tory as a private secretary.

Prince William has hired a former Treasury employee best known for his cost-cutting expertise as his new private secretary, as he seeks to reduce the costs of royal travel, amongst other things. Jean-Christophe Gray, an Oxford and London School of Economics graduate, was known in Whitehall for being an astute penny-pincher, and worked for chancellors of the exchequer including Alistair Darling, George Osborne and Rishi Sunak.

He was also former Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman, making him the second hire for William’s team of a former Cameron employee. Simon Case, William’s previous secretary, had held the same position for Cameron, but returned to work at Whitehall last year.

‘JC’ as he is known to colleagues will replace outgoing advisor Christian Jones, who is leaving to take up a role at private equity firm Bridgepoint.

According to The Times, William is particularly concerned by the increase in expenditure on official royal travel, which rose from £4.6 million in 2018-19 to £5.3 million in 2019-20. A source speaking to the newspaper described Gray as ‘the model of a mandarin highflyer: clever, a little geeky and beyond reproach’.

The news comes as the Cambridge family prepares to swap life in Norfolk at Anmer Hall for London once again, as they return to Kensington Palace in time for Prince George and Princess Charlotte to return to Thomas’s Battersea on 8 March.

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing a ‘road map’ to easing lockdown this evening, we could see more of the Duke and Duchess undertaking socially-distanced events from the capital, rather than on Zoom, in the near future.

[From Tatler]

“William is particularly concerned by the increase in expenditure on official royal travel, which rose from £4.6 million in 2018-19 to £5.3 million in 2019-20…” William, know thyself. William wanted to go to Ireland just as Covid was spreading across Europe. William wanted to do the Covid Choo Choo tour using the expensive Royal Train. William is the one who has to travel everywhere by helicopter. No, but really, this is William’s way of getting under his father’s skin and attacking Charles. Charles does spend too much on private planes and expensive tours (which people rarely pay attention to). So that’s what this is. But, you know, political.

The Duke of Cambridge visited King’s Lynn Corn Exchange Vaccination Centre, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, on Monday 22nd February 2021Picture Arthur Edwards

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visit Holy Trinity Church of England First School in Berwick-Upon-Tweed

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.

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31 Responses to “Prince William’s new private secretary is known as an ‘astute penny-pincher’”

  1. Liz version 700 says:

    That pic of William making the “I smell a fart” face hahahahaha fantastic.

  2. Sunday says:

    It’s not that the Sussexes are “too political,” it’s that they don’t share the same politics as the rest of the family.

    It’s quite obvious that the royal family and the tory government are very much in lock step. The right-wing media, the tories and the royals together serve solely to amplify their own interests (austerity, racism, bigotry, and staunch conservatism), which just so happen to directly oppose everything the Sussexes stand for.

    I do think that the insulated bubble of hate spewed by the media/tories and absorbed by the royals (william in particular) have formed such an effective echo chamber that they all firmly believe their own hype, which explains how they continue to make PR choices that look absolutely insane and ill-advised to anyone lucky enough to be outside that bubble.

  3. Elizabeth Regina says:

    Another right wing tory boy to bolster Willcandescent’s ego. Bless. For someone who owns a helicopter, went on the choo choo covid express of doom and also pulled the two airplane stunt to be worried about travel costs is a bit rich! Give someone a gold star.

    • Sunday says:

      personally, I think this focus on travel is so that they can blame harry and meghan for “inflated” costs, thereby praising themselves for being soooo eco-conscious with their own. he’s setting himself up for an easy (albeit dishonest and incongruous) win.

  4. S808 says:

    He’s had more turnover than my local McDonald’s.

    • Watson says:

      S808: I’m dying lol!!

    • Where'sMyTiara says:

      LMAO. “Hello, burn unit? Got a royal customer for ya.”

    • anotherlily says:

      This is his fifth Private Secretary in seven years. Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton resigned in 2014 to be replaced by Miguel Head who resigned in 2018, then Simon Case who lasted less than two years, Christian Jones who survived just ten months and now Jean-Christophe Gray is giving it a whirl.

      Then there’s Jason Knauf who joined KP staff in 2015 as press secretary to the Cambridges and Prince Harry, then became Communications Secretary to the Cambridges and Sussexes, then Special Advisor to the Cambridges and then CEO to the Cambridges’ Royal Foundation. He’s certainly a ‘person of interest’ in what looks like an orchestrated campaign between KP and the royal rota against Meghan.

  5. Becks1 says:

    Yeah this is definitely a dig at Charles – how can William control the travel expenses of the rest of the royal family? He can’t. He can only control his own expenses. Are he and Kate going to stop using helicopters or private planes for jaunts to Northern Ireland? (thinking of Kate’s Early Years tour last January.) I doubt it.

    But this is definitely a dig at Charles for his tours that really dont get a lot of coverage.

    • Where'sMyTiara says:

      The wolf and the remaining cub are now going to try to destroy each other. Huh. Almost like we’ve seen this in every generation since the Hanoverian dynasty started.

      Magnificent 7? More like malignant.

  6. Jay says:

    Well, I’m not an expert, but a start could be not exclusively traveling by private helicopter and your personal royal train?

    Maybe this will be an excuse for the Cambridges to keep zooming in to engagements even after things open up? That would actually be a positive development, not least for a self professed environmental activist trying to draw a contrast with his brother and his ecotourism initiative.

    As always, they are very keen to get credit for beginning to think about working toward achieving a goal, but let’s just see what happens when lockdown lets up and our top CEO needs a trip to Mustique to recover.

    • BeanieBean says:

      “…to get credit for beginning to think about working toward achieving a goal.” That’s it right there. I’m getting caught up on a podcast series I recently discovered, Satellite Sisters, and in 2008 they mentioned how the press announced that PW was going to become a PFT SAR helicopter pilot, and we know how that turned out. The Cambridges are ridiculously good at getting their propaganda out there, and the sycophantic press continues to help them out.

  7. Harper says:

    Remember that study that said the Royals disproportionately visit areas close to London? Well here is William’s response to any expectation that they should spread out and public service around the whole of the kingdom. Now it’s just too expensive to do so! We’ll zoom with you from the comfort of Kensington or Anmer but travel costs, y’all! His #lazymonarch brand goals are so transparent.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      I agree this is a bid to reduce work. I also suspect it’s part of a strategy to pretend William is “frugal” in anticipation of brutal austerity measures the Tories are going to try to impose during the economic mess that Brexit is causing. This feels like the Windsors pretending to tighten their belts to stay in lockstep with the message of the conservatives in the past. William really does seem to be in the pocket of the Tories, who are in turn in league with the right wing tabloids. Curious.

  8. Kitty says:

    I don’t think the monarchy will end but I do think that their relevancy will diminish significantly. That’s why they are trying to get the US public interest in them because if they do many people will flock to the UK and the interest in the monarchy “fairytale aspect will be on an all time high. I think 2020 and now 2021 has shown as they are really insignificant.

  9. Darla says:

    I’m really not interested in Royal stories but I had to pop in to say Kaiser has topped herself with this header pic. He actually looks like a chimpanzee! I laughed.

  10. Watson says:

    Can someone British explain what a mandarin high flyer is?

    • ClaireB says:

      I need this too. It sounds like racist, colonial language to me, though the article presents it like we’re supposed to be awed and impressed.

      • Shoo fly says:

        It is indeed colonial language and in this context “mandarin high flyer” means discreet and powerful career bureaucrat who has excelled at maintaining his own positions by throwing elbows and probably quite a few well dropped leaks. The British civil service (the career bureaucrats who serve in the government) can be a blood sport.

      • Watson says:

        Shoo fly: thanks for the explanation. Sad to think my gut reaction was right though.

      • Sparky says:

        I googled it and the term highflyer shows up but no mention of Mandarin. So the conclusion I came to was the same as yours–racist and colonial.

    • Waitwhat? says:

      I’m not sure it’s overtly racist, but it is a word with colonial roots so its use should probably be reconsidered.

      A Mandarin was originally a bureaucrat in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese government a few hundred years ago (so Google tells me). It’s generally used now to suggest a career civil servant with an area of expertise. It’s not an uncommon term in political reporting in the UK media (but probably shouldn’t be – this article *is* from Tatler, though).

  11. Jumpingthesnark says:

    Ok so the new guy will clip coupons for buying the office supplies and coffee/tea, to distract from William and Charles spend endless money on unnecessary travel. Right, got it!

    • UptownGirl says:

      Yes, that is exactly what he will do. I hate to break it to him, but he won’t be able to rein in PWT and his insufferable do-nothing wife! They will continue doing exactly what they want when they want to!!

  12. SenseOfTheAbsurd says:

    If it means they won’t inflict another tour on us, then result.

    Not optimistic, it isn’t like those parasites are actually paying for it.

    How in the name of sanity are travel costs legitimately up for 2019/20? Somebody’s on the fiddle.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Ah, my very thought. The pandemic hit early last year, so everybody’s travel should have dropped. I know my own did; I’m doing my taxes right now & I did a lot less of everything last year.

  13. Waitwhat? says:

    I’m sure someone has made this point already, but – they spent £5.3 million on travel, an *increase* on the previous year, when the UK was locked down due to a global pandemic?!!

    (I guess that figure might be for the 19/20 financial year, so only until March 2020 … but dear God, that is *so* much money. They’re richly rewarded for their “service”, then.)

  14. Shoo fly says:

    I wonder if the increase in travel costs is due to a lack of foreign tours and therefore an inability to pawn off the costs on other governments. Each of the families travelled back and forth from their various houses through the United Kingdom a minimum of 3-4 times.

  15. Tshipp says:

    Just a bit of a fact check on this – he’s a civil servant so not a member of the Conservative party or politically affiliated (and has to abide by the civil service code of impartiality). Not to undermine the core argument though! Excellent pic .

  16. Ed says:

    I will say yes

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