Are You a Very English Butler? The U.K. Government Needs You – News


LONDON — Of the present vacancies within the British authorities’s lots of of job listings for coverage and technique advisers, one stands out. Wished: two butlers.

Duties embody delivering “the very best high quality V.I.P. hospitality for all authorities departments and ministers” and managing the federal government’s wine cellar.

Most annual wage: 30,000 kilos (not fairly $40,000).

Solely British nationals want apply, in accordance with the Overseas and Commonwealth Workplace, which marketed the roles.

It could appear considerably anachronistic that butlers are nonetheless being employed, particularly in an age when digital assistants reminiscent of Alexa and Siri can be found to alleviate the burden of family duties like shopping for groceries or switching off the lights.

However the standing image has endured in Britain, a rustic that cherishes custom and heritage.

Grant Harrold, former royal butler to Prince Charles and a co-founder of The Royal Faculty of Butlers, defined that the federal government’s job description was broadly in keeping with the necessities of a 21st-century butler.

“For those who watch ‘Downton Abbey,’ we wish to suppose a butler wears a white tie, stands behind tables and chairs, trying the half,” Mr. Harrold mentioned, referring to the hit tv sequence. “The truth of a modern-day butler is that it’s evolving into this hospitality position.”

However he puzzled whether or not the federal government had knowingly performed on British stereotypes in naming the position.

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“The federal government is just not asking for ‘home managers,’ however ‘butlers’ as a result of it’s a very British factor,” he mentioned. “The federal government is saying: ‘We need to have our personal British butler.’ It’s a little bit of a present.”

In keeping with the Overseas and Commonwealth Workplace, the hub of Britain’s diplomacy and worldwide relations, limiting candidates to British residents follows the principles of the division as a complete. The place’s tasks embody managing inventory and objects price as a lot as £three million, in addition to guaranteeing the sleek working of food and drinks service for occasions with as many as 350 visitors.

Staying true to the meant position of a butler (the phrase is derived from an Outdated French time period for “bottle bearer”), good data of “tremendous wines” and meals service is listed at least requirement for the job, because the butlers should additionally maintain the federal government’s wine cellar.

Malcolm Rifkind, the British overseas secretary from 1995 to 1997, mentioned that having a workers to oversee the federal government’s hospitality program was nothing out of the bizarre.

“There may be not a single nation on the planet that will not supply that sort of hospitality,” Mr. Rifkind mentioned. He added that almost all nationwide governments would make use of somebody to supervise occasions held for overseas dignitaries — although not all would formally be referred to as butlers.

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“It’s completely regular to have a luncheon or dinner for visiting overseas minister or heads of state,” he mentioned.

He defined that for such a proper event, wine can be served by hospitality staff. “You don’t use diplomats to do this; it’s not of their coaching,” Mr. Rifkind mentioned. “It might be a waste of diplomats’ expertise.”

Nestled among the many business-jargon-filled job titles on the Civil Service web site, the advert for “authorities butlers” is distinctive. The position is just not new, and there are presently three authorities butlers on payroll.

Candidates are required to work odd hours and full bodily demanding duties, however the most wage provided is simply marginally higher than the median annual earnings for a full-time employee in Britain: £29,574.

Mr. Harrold, the previous royal butler, mentioned that the wage provided by the federal government was common for a butler working in Britain and that the place provided different advantages.

“The folks you take care of and the status and expertise you get from doing that’s priceless,” he mentioned.

If potential candidates had been deterred by the Overseas Workplace’s remuneration, they might not be the primary.

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Britain’s diplomatic service discovered itself on the backside of the pile relating to pay packages in an annual authorities workers survey of 98 organizations: Just one in 10 of the division’s London-based workers mentioned they felt optimistic about their pay, the workplace admitted to a parliamentary committee final 12 months.

The Overseas Workplace mentioned that 70 % of workers who left jobs there had cited poor pay as the principle purpose for his or her departure.

The division has additionally been criticized for wasteful spending, when it emerged final month that it had spent nearly $16 million to purchase a full-floor penthouse house for one among its diplomats in New York. A spokesman for the Overseas Workplace defended the choice.

Although the necessity for a butler is considerably uncommon, the federal government is just not the one company hiring for the old school position.


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