Up to 20 royal staff who provided personal services to the late Queen have been told their jobs could be at risk under King Charles III, the Guardian can reveal.
Those affected were informed shortly after the monarch’s death but advised by the royal household that formal consultations could start only after Monday’s state funeral.
The staff left worrying about their jobs over the mourning period were those who had worked most closely with the monarch.
According to sources, they could include some of the all-female dressers responsible for the Queen’s famous outfits and the staff who helped the monarch move between the royal palaces.
The development follows last week’s revelation that up to 100 employees at the King’s former official residence, Clarence House, had been notified that they could lose their jobs.
Private secretaries, and staff in the finance office and communications team were among those who received notice during the thanksgiving service for the Queen at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh on 12 September that their posts at Clarence House were on the line.
The potential royal redundancies illustrate the swift and brutal nature of the transition of the crown from Queen Elizabeth II to King Charles III.
In the case of the Queen’s personal staff, a letter was sent on behalf of Andrew Parker in his role as lord chamberlain, the most senior officer role in the royal household.
At the same time, counselling sessions and a special hotline for those distressed by the news of the Queen’s death were made available to those working in the five departments of her household.
Staff were told that a formal consultation with Sir Michael Stevens, keeper of the privy purse, to discuss the potential redundancies among the personal staff was to be arranged for after Monday’s funeral services at Westminster Abbey and St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
The palace said in their letters that no definitive decisions had been made but that an impact on roles was anticipated.
Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents a number of employees in the royal households, said: “Our members are extremely disappointed and saddened by this development.
“They have worked for the Queen, intimately, for years and feel let down by the decision to let them go. They are already grieving the loss of Her Majesty – this is kicking them when they’re down.”
A meeting has been arranged for Wednesday with representatives of those affected, it was understood. Buckingham Palace did not respond to a request for comment.
Many of those affected will probably have played a role in what was dubbed HMS Bubble – the attempt to protect the Queen at the height of the Covid pandemic.
King Charles, however, will want to bring his own staff over as he takes on the responsibilities of monarch.
At Clarence House, the 28 members of his household staff include four chefs, five house managers, three valets and dressers and a couple of butlers.
There will likely be an attempt to move affected staff to other roles if possible. But some of those attending the Queen will have very specialised skills that are not easily transferred. Roles at Buckingham Palace include such rarities as a flagman and a fendersmith responsible for upkeep of the royal chimney fenders.
While there will seemingly be a purge at Clarence House and among the personal staff, the vast majority of employees at the royal palaces will remain in post. The staff payroll was £23.7m in 2022.
According to the annual Sovereign Grant Report for 2021/22, there were 491 full-time staff working at the occupied royal palaces, which include Buckingham Palace, Balmoral and Windsor Castle.
One member of staff who was expected to be looked after by the royal household is the Queen’s stylist, hairdresser and aide, Angela Kelly, 64, who has been reportedly been given use of her grace and favour home until her own death.
In response to the notices of a risk of redundancy at Clarence House, a spokesman had said last week that some redundancies would be unavoidable but that they were “working urgently to identify alternative roles for the greatest number of staff”.
A Royal Household source said they were “working to support any staff affected by changes following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. It would not be appropriate for us to talk about individual members of staff”.