Here’s What It’s Really Like to Work for the Royal Family
Former staff reveal what it's really like to have a queen or prince as your boss.
There’s a difference between knowing your place and being ignored
Even if you’ve worked for a decade with the royal family, proper etiquette isn’t to run up to the Queen for a bear hug in social situations. “When I see the Queen at events, we don’t embrace and say ‘good to see you,’” says Harrold. “It’s still all very respectful, and you do get acknowledged—and you’re remembered, which is even better.”
Forgetting protocol will lose you points
The royal family has been doing enough official engagements to know what they look like when they run smoothly, so they’ll notice if their staff has missed a few steps. If the staff member’s predecessor always opened the car door but the new one just walked away, they’ll start to lose trust, says Morgan. “Most [royals] know where they expect to see protection officers, and if they’re not in that place, it puts a question in their mind that maybe they don't know what they’re doing,” he says. The royal family follows their own protocol too—these are 10 dress code rules everyone in the royal family has to follow.
There are pressures beyond just the royal family
When you’re involved in an event with the royals, you’re not just worried about doing right by the individual family members. The Queen and her family are “global icons,” says Morgan, so you’re representing the country, the entire Commonwealth, and the police force (in the case of protection officers). “You have many different pressures there of ‘nothing can go wrong,’” he says.
No gossiping allowed
When you’re up close and personal with the royal family, you’re naturally going to get some juicy intel when you overhear conversations or get a glimpse of who they’re with. After all, what family doesn’t have their secrets? But blabbing about it to the press is a good way to get on their bad side. “Loyalty, discretion, and trust are quite big,” says Harrold. “They have to know you will keep things private.” Don't miss these 12 royal family scandals that rocked the world.
Working for one person might involve working for others, too
Just because your job description is working for one or two members of the royal family doesn’t mean that’s where your duties end. Harrold started working for Charles and Camilla in 2004, when William and Harry were in their early 20s, so they—and Kate Middleton—also ended up being part of Harrold’s duties. “I was happy to do the extra work,” he says.
The royal family is always polite
The royal family doesn’t expect staff to be prim and proper, while they ignore basic manners themselves. “They’re very caring, very appreciative of what you do,” says Harrold. “They’re paying my wage, so they don’t need to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ but they do.” Learn which 10 myths about the royal family just aren't true.
They stay low-key in public
When the U.S. president comes to town, you’ll probably see streets blocked off and big protection teams milling around. When the royal family is out and about, you can expect the opposite. “Our focus primarily is not unsettling the environment,” says Morgan. “The model is called 'discrete and unobtrusive.'” The royal family will have security with them, but they blend into the background to avoid attracting attention. The goal is to make people say, “Wait, was that—? Nah, couldn’t have been.” For more inside looks into the life of royalty, read up on these 50 things you didn't know about the British royal family.