16 July 2008

Odd jobs

In an institution as old as the British royal household there are some positions that go back centuries, to when the monarchy actually ran the country.

Some positions no longer exist because the roles were absorbed by government. The Master of the Revels, for instance, oversaw royal festivities and, oddly, stage censorship. The Master of the Great Wardrobe ran the office that provided clothing and textiles to the royal family.

The Clerk of the Closet, a position that still exists, has nothing to do with “the Great Wardrobe”. He’s the household cleric, usually a former diocesan bishop. The pay is lousy: £7 a year.

There’s the self-explanatory Keeper of the Queen's Swans (the Queen officially owns all swans in Britain) and the Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales – a job recently resurrected by the current PoW.

The Queen has two ceremonial “bodyguards” on some state occasions called the Gold Stick and the Silver Stick; Princess Anne is one of the two Gold Sticks at the moment (because she's Colonel of the Blues and Royals, part of the Household Cavalry) and you know you wouldn't want to mess with her.

The Page of the Backstairs serves the Queen and Prince Philip’s meals if they’re eating in their apartments. He also tidies up and lets people in and out of the apartments.

The Purse Bearer carries an actual purse (a big velvet bag) which is used to carry the monarch’s speech at the opening of Parliament (it’s done by the Lord Chancellor).

The Woman of the Bedchamber has nothing to do with the real bedchamber. She’s the Queen’s most senior lady-in-waiting. Her first Woman of the Bedchamber was the gloriously named Fortune FitzRoy; the current is Diana Maxwell, Baroness Farnham.


frockwriter said...

Baroness Farnham!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dataceptionist said...

If I was "our" Johnny's wife thats the name I'd go by LOL