Dozens of Clarence House staff have been notified of redundancies as the offices of King Charles and the Queen Consort move to Buckingham Palace following the Queen’s death, the Guardian has learned.
Up to 100 staff at the king’s former official residence, some of whom worked there for decades, have been told they could lose their jobs as they work around the clock to facilitate his elevation to the throne.
Private secretaries, the finance office, the communications team and household staff were among those told at the service of thanksgiving for the Queen at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh on Monday that their positions were at stake.
Many staff had assumed they would be merged into the King’s new household, saying they had received no indication of what was to come until the letter arrived from Sir Clive Alderton, the principal assistant to the king. A source said: “Everyone is absolutely livid, including the private secretaries and the senior team. All the staff have been working late every night since Thursday, only to end up with this. People have been visibly shaken by it.”
In his letter, seen by the Guardian, Alderton wrote: “The change in roles for our directors will also mean a change for our household… The portfolio of work previously undertaken in this household supporting the personal interests, former activities and household of the former Prince of Wales operations will no longer be carried out, and the Clarence House household will be closed. It is therefore expected that the need for the positions primarily based at Clarence House, whose work supports these areas, will no longer be necessary.
The King’s private secretary added: ‘I appreciate this is troubling news and wanted to let you know of the support available at this stage.
He added that some staff members providing “direct, close and personal support and advice” to Charles and Camilla would remain in place. No final decision appears to have been made as a consultation period, which will begin after the state funeral next Monday, must first be completed.
Redundant staff should be offered alternative job searches in all royal households, help in finding new jobs outside and “enhanced” severance pay beyond the legal minimum.
A Clarence House spokesman said: “Following last week’s accession, operations of the household of the former Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have ceased and, as required by law, a consultation process has begun. Our staff have given long and loyal service and, while some layoffs will be inevitable, we are working urgently to identify alternative roles for as many staff as possible.
It has not yet been confirmed whether the King and Queen consort will eventually live at Buckingham Palace. Currently, only parts of Buckingham Palace are habitable as it is undergoing extensive refurbishment work that is expected to last for years.
There is speculation that the king, who is rumored not to have a particular fondness for the palace, would use it for official purposes such as receptions, audiences, investitures and banquets, while retaining at near Clarence House as his home in London.
When his office was questioned about it in 2017, when he was still Prince of Wales, officials said Buckingham Palace would remain the seat of the monarchy and the sovereign’s official residence. No detailed information about his likely living conditions has been given recently.
According to Clarence House’s annual review earlier this year, the King employed the full-time equivalent of 101 people. There are 31 in the office of private secretaries, including private and assistant secretaries, research, administrative and esquire staff.
A similar number work in its treasurers department, while it employs 12 in its communications office. Her 28 household staff include four chefs, five house managers, three valets and dressers, and a few butlers. According to the latest Sovereign Grant report, the Queen employed 491 full-time staff.
There is also the question of whether the King would retain use of Windsor Castle at weekends and Sandringham House in Norfolk, which the late Queen visited over the Christmas period. The King and Queen Consort also have a residence at Birkhall on the Balmoral Estate, Highgrove in Gloucestershire and Llwynywermod, a cottage in Wales.
The new Prince and Princess of Wales recently moved to Windsor and moved into Adelaide Cottage, while keeping their apartment at Kensington Palace for official purposes.
When the Queen Mother died, the Duke of York took over the Royal Lodge at Windsor. While some of its 83 staff have been redeployed to other royal households, others have been made redundant.