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Last Updated:  Friday, 14 March, 2003, 12:22 GMT
How royal staff are not well paid
Prince Charles - and his now resigned aide Michael Fawcett (back) - in Saudi Arabia
The royals are showered in gifts
The Peat report into the running of the royal household again focused attention on how unwanted official gifts are passed to staff - a practice long considered a perk of a palace job which is not well paid.

Help wanted: discreet lady for post in central London. 5.50 an hour. Hours from dawn until past dusk. Perks include meals, grace and favour accommodation, free TV licence and non-contributory pension scheme, and maybe a gong in the Honours List. Oh, and could you use a watch inscribed "HRH"?

For the passing on of unwanted gifts is a perk "as old as the monarchy", according to the former royal butler Paul Burrell.

ESPECIALLY FOR HRH
Between 1999 and 2001, Prince Charles received 2,394 gifts
These included five animals, 15 items of "arms and armour" and 249 CDs, videos and tapes
Now perishables or gifts worth less than 50 will be passed on
And it was this perk - and the potential for abuse thereof - which Sir Michael Peat, Prince Charles' private secretary, criticised in his report into the running of the royal household. While he found no evidence of wrong-doing, Sir Michael recommended that the guidelines be tightened and official gifts be accounted for.

Whereas once the royals might have handed down a luxury watch presented by a visiting dignitary, today their staff will only be passed perishables or gifts worth less than 50.

Right up until 2001, the attraction in working for the palace has always had more to do with the privilege of doing so (as well as those quirky perks) than the pay scale.

Judi Dench as Queen Victoria
Staff had long been paid a pittance
But following publicity that some palace staff were among the lowest-paid workers in the country and had to rely on welfare benefits, the Queen agreed to substantial pay rises. Based on job advertisements placed prior to these wage increases, junior kitchen porters, housemaids and stable staff earned between 9,000 and 9,500 - a figure which jumped to between 14,000 and 14,500 - while a footman made 11,500 to 12,000.

Today the average palace wage is 19,000, according to the 2002 Civil List, a figure bumped up by the hefty salaries paid to a select band of senior aides. The highest-paid Royal Household member is Sir Michael himself, who earned 172,021, including a 47,576 deduction for housing.

Perks of the job

Former butler Paul Burrell recalled working 16-hour days in his time at Highgrove before the Wales's marriage break-up.

"It was not unusual for Prince Charles to return from a polo match with a prize from one of the sponsors - Cartier, Rolex or Dunhill - and toss the unwanted gift in my direction - if a royal protection officer hadn't collared it first," he told reporters.

Princess Margaret in 2001
Through good times and bad
David Griffin, the chauffeur to Princess Margaret, told how he put in long hours for a final take-home pay of 1,500 a month (although he earned much less for most of his 25 years in service). "To counteract the hours, she would tell us to do whatever we wanted in the three or four weeks she spent in Mustique."

Like other staff, he was able to top up his salary by selling royal goods. In 1998, a US dealer paid 10,500 for six Christmas and birthday cards sent to him by the late Princess Diana.

When their royal employer dies, those who gave many years of loyal service may well hope for a generous settlement or bequest. But they may just remain as hopes.

Mr Griffin, for instance, was ordered out of his tied cottage and was so angered at the terms of his severance - the legal minimum, amounting to a few thousand pounds - that he returned his royal service medal.

When the Queen Mother passed away, she left the bulk of her estimated 50m fortune to her daughter, who did not have to pay inheritance tax. The undisclosed bequests to her staff - most of whom had worked well beyond retirement age at her request - were liable for the tax.




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