For some people, working with royalty seems like the ideal job, but what’s it like? Well, very few people seem to know, so we thought we’d uncover the secrets and give you an insight into what it’s like to work in one of the most prestigious institutions in the world.
The Royal Family’s footmen (that’s footmen, not butlers and certainly not servants. Butlers rank higher than footmen and are usually heads of the household. Servants implies some kind of unavoidable indentured servitude) are the people that make things happen in the Royal Household, theirs is one of the most demanding, yet apparently rewarding jobs in the Household.
The life of a footman is certainly not what people expect. Yes, there are positives, but there are also some important-to-consider negatives for any would-be footman. On the plus side, footmen do get to live in Buckingham Palace in one of the 188 staff bedrooms on site, though in comparison to the rest of the palace, accommodation is rather less grand and a lot more modest. There are now quite considerable rewards and benefits packages available including salary sacrifice schemes (for phones and bikes), discretionary car leasing scheme and a free staff lunch.
Though some say this is where the positives end. The Royal Household’s footmen are almost famed for being lowly paid. Their salary falls just above the national minimum wage. The starting wage for a footman is about £12,000 per year ($19,220) – also minusing the cost for accommodation at the Palace. Secondly, there is very little time for socialising, the majority of your day would be spent serving.
Also, if you think being a footman would ensure always working closely with the Royal Family, think again. There’s a lot of competition between the staff to get the top jobs working closely with members of the Royal Family, some have even reported people turning nasty when they get shoved aside for someone else. A junior footman would have to establish his/herself in order to not be lumbered with the worst jobs.
The job is also said to be very demanding, having to meet the very exacting standards of the Royal Household will always be a challenge, especially the exacting standards of the top members of the Royal Family who will not tolerate silly mistakes!
Also, the other household inhabitants, The Queen’s corgis are said to be quite a trial too. There have been many a story of anxious sentries stood in sentry boxes trying to avoid being bitten by the dogs, and trays dropping inside the Palaces due to the corgis tripping footmen up. And woe betide you if you try to get your own back. One of The Queen’s footmen once poured whiskey in the corgis’ water bowl to make them tipsy – a hilarious laugh for the staff, but Her Majesty was furious and has the offending footman demoted!
The ability to stay on your feet and not be easily worn down are also necessary traits that would be needed for a footman, especially serving at a state banquet which can go on for several hours, with many courses and hundreds of people. Get used to polishing things beyond gleaming too, Her Majesty’s silverware wouldn’t be the same without its traditional gleam, and that’s not achieved all through a dishwasher!
You can also cast away any thought of gossiping about Behind Closed Doors, all staff will sign a document binding them to secrecy. A clever measure introduced by the Royal Household since a member of the media infiltrated the Palace as a footman and reported back to his newspaper on Palace life.
All said, being a footman for The Queen is the right job for some people, but just remember the high demand from such a job and poor pay, and if you still think this is the job for you, then you’re probably in the right frame of mind for such a job.