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13 Bizarre Royal Jobs That Actually Exist

From carving meat to breaking in shoes, the royal family employs a host of royal officials to keep up their sometimes strange traditions.

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succulent roast turkey with hand and a knife carving the meat
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Grand Carver of England

Of course, the royals would never cut their own meat. This honor is passed down within a high-status family, as it is an inherited office. The Earl of Denbigh and Desmond is the current roast-carving aficionado and gets the chance to show off his expertise at special royal dinners and events. Check out the jobs the royal family have held themselves.

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Britain Auction
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Keeper of the Royal Philatelic Collection

The queen doesn’t just appear on stamps in the United Kingdom—she also collects them. Many pieces from the extensive collection were passed down from her grandfather and father, who were avid collectors, before her. These days, the collection is so huge that stamp specialist Michael Sefi holds the head position, organizing and maintaining the historically significant documents. He’s held the position since 2003, working to add to the collection and make it visible to the public.

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The River Pageant to Mark the Queen's offical 90th Birthday The Queen's Row Barge 'Gloriana' leads the pageant upriver

The Queen’s Bargemaster

The Royal Bargemaster sits at the command of a team of 24 Royal Watermen, and these positions date back hundreds of years, to times when the royals traveled by water quite frequently. According to the official royal website, there are no state barges still on the Thames today, though there is still the official royal motor launch, the Royal Nore, which members of the royal family use when traveling on the Thames for official engagements. So, the duties of the Royal Watermen are now purely ceremonial. They still engage in escorting royals on the Royal Nore or greeting official guests who come by boat, and now have some on-shore duties as well. Here are 15 other bizarre perks of being part of the royal family.

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The band of The Royal Logistics Corps playing on the track at the arrival of HM The Queen
on Buckle for The Jockey Club/Shutterstock

Master of the Queen’s Music

Well, it’s not exactly the queen’s royal Spotify-playlist maker. The Master of the Queen’s Music actually has no set responsibilities, as Business Insider reported, but they may compose pieces for royal or state occasions as they see fit. Composer Judith Weir has held this position since 2014 and is actually the first woman in British history to do so. There is a time limit of ten years, though, so expect to see a new face in 2024.

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The Victorian Tropical Palm House, the oldest glasshouse at the Royal Botanic Gardens, a public park in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Her Majesty’s Botanist

Like many of the other positions on this list, the role of Her Majesty’s Botanist is technically an honorary position. Currently, Professor Stephen Blackmore, botanical enthusiast and regius keeper of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, holds the rank. Curious about how the royals can afford to employ all these positions? Many are ceremonial and paid for by the state, but you can check out the net worth of everyone in the royal family.

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Martin Rees
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Astronomer Royal

Astronomer Royal is the title given to a prominent scientist in the field of astronomy. The position was established in 1675 by King Charles II, so you can imagine how much the field has changed since. The current astronomer, Martin Rees, is in good company in this office; Edmund Halley, for whom Halley’s Comet is named, is an alumnus.

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The first exhibition about King George III and Queen Charlotte opens at The Queens Gallery, Buckingham Palace. Robert Ball, the Queens Clockmaker checks the mechanism of the Astronomical clock by Christopher Pinchbeck, the Kings clockmaker, and Sir William Chambers, his architect. One of the most complex clocks in the world it records the time at locations around the world relative to mean time, and high and low water at seaports. The calender dial incorporates a planisphere and the orrery dial includes
David Sandison/Shutterstock

Royal Horological Conservator

This lengthy title is befitting for someone who oversees the functioning and maintenance of all the clocks in the royal properties and residences. And there are certainly a lot of them: 500 in Buckingham Palace, 379 in Windsor Castle, and 80 in the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The conservator’s busiest times? The two weekends when he must lead the Royal Collection staff team in switching every single clock in the collection to or back from British Summer Time, spending over 50 hours carefully adjusting the historical timepieces.

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Queen Elizabeth II with Lord Samuel Vestey
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Master of the Horse

Though the position is largely ceremonial today, as the Crown Equerry now handles the general day-to-day dealings of the royal horses, it is still an important role. It was established in the 14th century when the office held much greater political importance and was responsible for providing horses for travel and warfare for the sovereign. Nowadays, Lord Samuel Vestey is Master of the Horse and attends state and royal occasions where the queen may be riding on horseback or in a carriage, such as Trooping the Colour and the State Opening of Parliament. Horses aren’t the queen’s only favorite animal, though; here’s why she owns so many corgis.

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The Art of Italy in the Royal Collection, Renaissance & Baroque, at the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London. The first exhibtion to survey 16th- and 17th-century Italian art in the Royal Collection for over 40 years.
Nils Jorgensen/Shutterstock

Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures

The queen holds possession of the Royal Collection for the nation of the UK, which houses roughly one million works of art and historical pieces, including paintings, furniture, books, and photography. With that many invaluable objects to take care of, of course there must be someone in charge. Desmond Shawe-Taylor was appointed to the office in 2005. In addition to anything held in archives or put on display for the public, he is also in charge of caring for and maintaining any works that adorn the walls of the royal castles and residences.

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London, UK. David Barber, The Queen's Swan Marker holds a swan on the riverbank. Swan Upping takes place on the River Thames near Windsor, Berkshire, UK. The annual event dates from medieval times, when The Crown claimed ownership of all mute swans which were considered an important food source for banquets and feasts. Today, the cygnets are weighed and measured to obtain estimates of growth rates and the birds are examined for any sign of injury, commonly caused by fishing hook and line. The cygnets are ringed with individual identification numbers by The Queen's Swan Warden, whose role is scientific and non-ceremonial.
Ray Tang/Shutterstock

Warden of the Swans and Marker of the Swans

Did you know the queen actually owns all unmarked swans on open water in England? A traditional event called the Swan Upping takes place each July, with the purpose of counting all of the swans in the Thames and accounting for their health in order to preserve conservation efforts. The Warden and Marker lead the event every year, and release a report documenting the observed health of the swan populations. Check out the craziest conspiracy theories about the royal family.

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Anne Denholm just appointed asofficial harpist to Prince Charles
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Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales

That’s right—Prince Charles has his own personal harpist. Anne Denholm, who currently holds the position, often performs at royal events. Previous harpists have even performed at Prince Charles’ wedding. America’s favorite Royal, Meghan Markle, has to abide by interesting royal traditions too–these are the rules she followed while pregnant. 

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Queen Elizabeth II opens the Diamond Jubilee Galleries at Westminster Abbey, London, UK - 08 Jun 2018
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Royal Shoe-Wearer

Not many of us get to step into the shoes of royalty. But at over 90 years old and still attending daily events dressed impeccably, it might really be a necessity for the queen to have someone break her shoes in for her before she wears them. It’s not known who exactly does this job, but it is definitely one of the more peculiar duties at Buckingham Palace. Much more than the queen’s comfort is at stake—as she ages, it’s essential that she not appear weak or too old, so having to step out of an event because of painful or tired feet would be a big problem. Here are 10 dress code rules all the royals must follow.

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Chelsea Flower Show, London, Britain - 22 May 2016
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Piper to the Sovereign 

A highly sought-after position in the bagpiping world, the Piper to the Sovereign is tasked with the duty of waking up the queen each morning by playing each weekday promptly at 9 a.m., in addition to some other related duties. Pipe Master Scott Methven is the current Piper, and plays whenever the queen is residing at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral Castle, or the Palace of Holyroodhouse; he does not play at Sandringham. The tradition began in the days of Queen Victoria, but Queen Elizabeth enjoyed it so much that she’s kept it around. Even the Queen Mother preferred to wake up this way, and she had her own piper as well. Check out these other fascinating facts about the queen.

[Sources: Business Insider, royal.uk, Royal Central]