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The importance of a Private Secretary – the most trusted of royal aides


Ana Bort via Flickr CC

There have been major staffing changes underway in the Royal Household with two senior royal aides, one for the Duke of Cambridge and the other, for the Prince of Wales, quitting their positions within days of each other.

Amid these changes, Royal Central is taking a look at the role of a Private Secretary, and why they are considered the most trusted of royal aides.

Each working member of The Royal Family has a Private Secretary who are effectively their principal’s right-hand man or woman. On royal engagements, Private Secretaries accompany their designated royal on official visits and act as their eyes and ears on the ground.

The Sovereign’s Private Secretary’s Office supports The Queen’s governmental and political duties as Head of State. The most senior aide helps organise domestic and overseas official programmes, advises on constitutional matters, and presents official messages to the public. This includes the announcements of royal marriages and births.

The Private Secretary is a close adviser of their principal and the best interest of the royal will be central to everything they do.

Colonel Herbert Taylor was appointed the first secretary to the Sovereign in 1805. Constitutionally, there was some opposition to the office which some ministers concerned that the holder of the role might grow to have an influence on the Sovereign. This led to the office not being formally established until 1867.

Sir Edward Young is the current Private Secretary of The Queen having been promoted from his role as Deputy Private Secretary in 2017.

Other Private Secretaries of note include Christian Jones who is leaving his role as the Duke of Cambridge’s right-hand man in the near future.

Clive Alderson is the most important aide in Clarence House as he acts as the Private Secretary for the Prince of Wales.

One of the longest serving Private Secretary is Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell who has worked for the Duke of Edinburgh since 2010, and occasionally represents Prince Philip at events.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.