The royal Households of the United Kingdom are the organised offices and support systems for the British Royal Family, along with their immediate (royal) families. Alongside The Royal Household, which supports the Sovereign, every other member of the Royal Family who undertakes public duties has his own separate Household — these vary considerably in size, from a handful of staff shared by Princes William and Harry, to the Household of the Prince of Wales, which is traditionally the largest Household beside The Household. These Households are all separate from The Royal Household, and are funded from the Civil List annuities paid to the their respective masters for their public duties, all of which is however reimbursed to HM Treasury by The Queen.
The Royal Household is a permanent establishment of relatively unchanging size and composition, the Households of other members of the Royal Family vary in size depending upon their age and their social and political role — the Household of the Prince of Wales is invariably the largest when the Prince is an adult actively involved in royal duties, and other Households are comparatively modest.
As presently arranged, the Royal Household is coordinated by the part-time Lord Chamberlain (The Rt Hon The Earl Peel GCVO PC DL since 12 October 2006), and organised into a number of functionally separate units.
The Private Secretary to the Sovereign (The Rt Hon Christopher Geidt CVO OBE since 8 September 2007), under whom works the Private Secretary's Office, but who also has control of the Press Office, the Queen's Archives, and the Defence Services Secretary's Office. He serves as principal advisor to the Sovereign and the principal channel of communication between the Sovereign and his or her Governments. Besides these, he also manages the Sovereign's official programme and correspondence
The Keeper of the Privy Purse has responsibility for the Sovereign's personal finances and those to do with semi-private concerns, along with, as Treasurer to the Queen oversight of the civil list. The two positions are held together and, since 2002, they have both been held by Sir Alan Reid KCVO
Each of these Heads of Department reports to the Lord Chamberlain, and is a member of the Lord Chamberlain's Committee.
The Royal Almonry, Ecclesiastical Household, and Medical Household are functionally separate but for accounting purposes are the responsibility of the Keeper of the Privy Purse and Treasurer to the Queen.
The Lord Steward is notionally responsible for the Department of Master of the Household, but only has a ceremonial role. The Master of the Horse is in a similar position, being nominally in charge of the Royal Mews.
The Crown Equerry has day to day operation of the Royal Mews, but is part of the Lord Chamberlain's Office. The Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood is also under the Lord Chamberlain's Office, as is the office of the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps.
Certain independent, and normally honorific, posts include Master of the Queen's Music, Poet Laureate, and Astronomer Royal. The Queen's Bargemaster, Warden of the Swans, and Marker of the Swans, perform more prosaic and less celebrated functions.
Technically members of the Household, the offices of Treasurer of the Household, Comptroller of the Household and Vice-Chamberlain of the Household are held by senior government whips in the House of Commons. In the House of Lords, the Government Chief Whip is usually appointed Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms and the Deputy Chief Whip as Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, with junior whips appointed as Lords-in-Waiting or Baronesses-in-Waiting. Occasionally these officers are called upon to undertake Household duties, especially the Vice-Chamberlain, who is responsible for writing regular parliamentary reports for the Queen.
The royal residences (see list of British Royal Residences) in current use are cared for and maintained by the Royal Household Property Section directly from the grant-in-aid provided by Parliament, whereas Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House are privately owned and maintained. The unoccupied royal residences (including the Tower of London) are run by the Historic Royal Palaces Agency, which is self-funding.
The UK Royal Household is separated into two separate parts, one for England and one for Scotland, as further noted below.
The sovereign's domestics were his officers of state, and the leading dignitaries of the palace were the principal administrators of the kingdom. The royal household itself had, in its turn, grown out of an earlier and more primitive thegnhood, and among the most eminent and powerful of the king's thegns were his dishthegn, his bowerthegn, and his horsethegn or staller. In Normandy at the time of the Conquest a similar arrangement, imitated from the French court, had long been established, and the Norman dukes, like their overlords the kings of France, had their seneschal or steward, their chamberlain and their constable. After the Conquest the ducal household of Normandy was reproduced in the royal household of England; and since, in obedience to the spirit of feudalism, the great offices of the first had been made hereditary, the great offices of the second were made hereditary also, and were thenceforth held by the grantees and their descendants as holder of tenure in grand serjeanty of the crown.
The consequence was that they passed out of immediate relation to the practical conduct of affairs either in both state and court or in the one or the other of them. The steward and Lord High Chamberlain of England were superseded in their political functions by the Justiciar and Treasurer of England, and in their domestic functions by the Lord Steward and Lord Chamberlain of the household. The marshal of England took the place of the constable of England in the royal palace, and was associated with him in the command of the royal armies.
In due course, however, the marshalship as well as the constableship became hereditary, and, although the Constable and Earl Marshal of England retained their military authority until a comparatively late period, the duties they had successively performed about the palace had been long before transferred to the master of the horse. In these circumstances the holders of the original great offices of state and the household ceased to attend the court except on occasions of extraordinary ceremony, and their representatives either by inheritance or by special appointment have ever since continued to appear at coronations and some other public solemnities, such as the State Opening of Parliament or trials by the House of Lords.
The materials available for a history of the English royal household are somewhat scanty and obscure. The earliest record relating to it is of the reign of Henry II and is contained in the Black Book of the Exchequer. It enumerates the various inmates of the king's palace and the daily allowances made to them at the period at which it was compiled. Hence it affords valuable evidence of the antiquity and relative importance of the court offices to which it refers, notwithstanding that it is silent as to the functions and formal subordination of the persons who filled them. In addition to this record we have series of far later, but for the most part equally meagre, documents bearing more or less directly on the constitution of the royal household, and extending, with long intervals, from the reign of Edward III to the reign of William and Mary. Among them, however, are what are known as the Black Book of the Household and the Statutes of Eltham, the first compiled in the reign of Edward IV and the second in the reign of Henry VIII from which a good deal of detailed information may be gathered concerning the arrangements of the court in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Statutes of Eltham were meant for the practical guidance merely of those who were responsible for the good order and the sufficient supply of the sovereign's household at the time they were issued. The great officers of state and the household whom we have particularly mentioned do not of course exhaust the catalogue of them. We have named those only whose representatives are still dignitaries of the court and functionaries of the palace. If the reader consults Hallam (Middle Ages, i. 181 seq.), Freeman (Norman Conquest, i. 91 seq., and v. 426 seq.) and Stubbs (Const. Hist. i. 343, seq.), he will be able himself to fill in the details of the outline we have given above.
But the Black Book of the Household, besides being a sort of treatise on princely magnificence generally, professes to be based on the regulations established for the governance of the court by Edward III, who, it affirms, was "the first setter of certeynties among his domesticall meyne, upon a grounded rule" and whose palace it describes as "the house of very policie and flowre of England"; and it may therefore possibly, and even probably, take us back to a period much more remote than that at which it was actually put together.
Various orders, returns and accounts of the reigns of Elizabeth, James I, Charles I, Charles II, and William and Mary throw considerable light on the organization of particular sections of the royal household in times nearer to our own. Moreover, there were several parliamentary inquiries into the expenses of the royal household in connexion with the settlement or reform of the civil list during the reigns of George III, George IV and William IV. But they add little or nothing to our knowledge of the subject in what was then its historical as distinguished from its contemporary aspects. So much, indeed, is this the case that, on the accession of Queen Victoria, Chamberlayne's Present State of England, which contains a catalogue of the officials at the court of Queen Anne, was described by Lord Melbourne the prime minister as the "only authority" which the advisers of the crown could find for their assistance in determining the appropriate constitution and dimensions of the domestic establishment of a queen regnant.
In its main outlines the existing organization of the royal household is essentially the same as it was under the Tudors or the Plantagenets. It is now, as it was then, divided into three principal departments, at the head of which are severally the lord steward, the lord chamberlain and the master of the horse, and the respective provinces of which may be generally described as "below stairs," "above stairs" and "out of doors." The duties of these officials, and the various officers under their charge are dealt with in the articles under those headings. When the reigning sovereign is a queen, the royal household is in some other respects rather differently arranged from that of a king and a queen consort.
When there is a king and a queen consort there is a separate establishment "above stairs" and "out of doors" for the queen consort. She has a Lord Chamberlain's department of her own, and all the ladies of the court from the Mistress of the Robes to the Maids of Honour are in her service. At the commencement of the reign of Queen Victoria the two establishments were combined, and on the whole considerably reduced. On the accession of Edward VII the civil list was again reconstituted; and while the household of the king and his consort became larger than during the previous reign, there was a tendency towards increased efficiency by abolishing certain offices which were either redundant or unnecessary.
The Royal Household in Scotland includes offices of personal, honorary and state appointments.
The Great Officers of the Royal Household are:
The Royal Household in Scotland also includes a number of other hereditary and non-hereditary offices:
The Household of the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh provides the administrative support to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the prince consort. It is based at Buckingham Palace, and is headed by his Private Secretary — the Treasurer (part-time 1970-1976) was formerly the senior officer, but this post is now vacant. There are also an Equerry (a major or equivalent from any of the three armed services), and two temporary equerries (usually a Captain from the Royal Marines, and a Captain from the Grenadier Guards).
The Household of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall is the organised office and support system for His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, in his role as heir apparent to the thrones of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms, and for his consort Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall. At the time of their 2009 Annual Review the Office of the Prince of Wales had the full-time equivalent of 121 staff. The head of the Household is the Principal Private Secretary, Sir Michael Peat. Senior officials include the Private Secretary, Mark Leishman; the Master of the Household, Wg Cdr Richard Pattle; the Treasurer, Leslie Ferrar; Communications Secretary, Patrick Harverson and Press Secretary, Patrick Harrison; the Director of The Prince's Charities, Sir Tom Shebbeare KCVO; and the Equerry, Maj Will Mackinlay.
In 2000 an Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales was appointed. The first holder of the office was Miss Catrin Finch. The Prince of Wales revived a tradition of having Welsh harpists by appointing Ms Finch. She was the first to receive a similar post since one was last granted in 1871 by Queen Victoria to John Thomas. In 2004 Catrin Finch was replaced by Miss Jemima Phillips, who in turn was replaced by Miss Claire Jones in 2007.
The Prince of Wales' Office is principally based at Clarence House, London, but also occupies rooms in the rest of St James's Palace. There are also offices for official staff at Highgrove House and Birkhall House, The Prince of Wales's private residences. In November 2006, The Prince of Wales bought his first home in Wales, the Llwynywormwood estate near Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, which he plans to use when he and The Duchess of Cornwall are visiting the country. The estate consists of an ex-coachhouse and is set in almost 200 acres (0.81 km2) of rolling parkland
Most of the expenses incurred in operating the office comes from The Prince of Wales's private appanage, the Duchy of Cornwall. The only significant costs met by grant-in-aid provided by the Government is for the upkeep of Clarence House, and for official travel by air and rail, and for communications support.
Details of The Prince's Senior Staff are available in his Office's Annual Reports. The following titles all have "to/of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall" suffixed when written in full. Prior to the Prince's 2005 marriage, they were instead suffixed "to/of The Prince of Wales".
A part-time Private Secretary to Their Royal Highnesses Princes William and Harry (James Lowther-Pinkerton MVO MBE Irish Guards (Rtd.)) was appointed in the Household of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in May 2005. In January 2009, a separate Household of HRH Prince William of Wales and HRH Prince Henry of Wales was established, headed by Lowther-Pinkerton. The Household's offices are in St James's Palace; it shares funding and much of its staff with Clarence House.
The Household of The Duke of York provides the administrative support for His Royal Highness The Prince Andrew, Duke of York in his royal duties, along with his immediate family. From 1971 the Duke of York, then The Prince Andrew (aged 11 years), had the assistance of one of The Queen's Equeries when required. The first was Sqn Ldr Peter Beer, who served until he was replaced by Maj George Broke Royal Artillery in 1974, and Lt Cdr Robert Guy RN in 1977.
It was only with the appointment in 1980 of Sqn Ldr Adam Wise, that the Prince could be said to have acquired the assistance of his own staff — although he was still shared with The Queen and Prince Edward. In 1983, Wise was promoted to Wing Commander and appointed Private Secretary to The Princes Andrew and Edward, severing his link with The Royal Household. He left the Duke of York's service in 1987, when Lt Col Sean O'Dwyer was appointed — also jointly with Prince Edward.
The Duke of York is now assisted by a Private Secretary, Comptroller, Assistant Private Secretary, Equerry, and Temporary Equerry. There are also an Office Assistant, and a handful of personal staff including cook and butler. The Duke of York's Office is currently based at Buckingham Palace, and the Duke has a residence at The Royal Lodge, Windsor, into which he moved during 2004, from Sunninghill Park, Ascot.
The Household of the Earl and Countess of Wessex provides the administrative support to His Royal Highness The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, youngest son of The Queen, and of his wife Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex. It is based at Buckingham Palace, and is headed by his Private Secretary.
The Household of the Princess Royal provides the administrative support to Her Royal Highness The Princess Anne, Princess Royal, daughter of Her Majesty The Queen, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. It is based at Buckingham Palace, and is headed by the Private Secretary.
Lady in Waiting: Mrs Meriel Afia LVO
This is an incomplete list of those who served in Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon's Household