Fancy working for the royals... or would you rather have a life?
Prince William and wife Kate have advertised a vacancy for a ‘diary co-ordinator’, writes Meadhbh McGrath, but is a job at the palace really all it’s cracked up to be?
Think you've got what it takes to organise the schedules of a prince and princess? You could be in luck. Prince William and Kate Middleton are on the hunt for a diary co-ordinator. Since the split of the Cambridge and Sussex households, the royals have struggled with diary clashes, particularly following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's exit from the Royal Foundation, the charitable partnership they shared with Will and Kate.
Kate upped her royal duties on her return from maternity leave and, with a tour of Pakistan scheduled for this autumn, the couple are in need of some help keeping their calendar in order.
March to it - polish that CV, dust off your Excel skills and read our breakdown on what it's really like to work for the world's most famous family.
On the royal website, the advertisement notes the diary co-ordinator will be based in Kensington Palace in London. The position will involve 37.5 hours a week "managing the seamless delivery of multiple complex diaries to ensure the smooth and effective co-ordination of engagements and events" - that's everything from garden parties and gala dinners to school openings and hospital visits.
Will and Kate are looking for "a team player" (someone so delighted to work for the royals they'll accept any measly salary) with "excellent communication skills" (find a way to sell the same garden project, co-designed by Kate, eight different ways) and a "pro-active and flexible approach" (read: punishingly long hours).
The ad also emphasises the ability to work under pressure and you'll need "advanced IT skills" for all those back-breaking spreadsheets and "superb attention to detail" so you can help Will avoid mixing up Japan and China again. Practising discretion is, obviously, "paramount" - you'll have to resist the temptation to snap a selfie trying on the tiaras when Kate pops out on an errand.
Royal staff are typically very accomplished, so think about who you're up against. Kate's private secretary Catherine Quinn has an MBA from Oxford business school and was an associate dean for administration there, while Harry and Meghan's communications staff is headed up by Sara Latham, a former senior adviser on Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign who also worked for Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.
ON THE JOB
Most new hires undergo a two-week orientation in which they learn key information about the royal family, the chain of command and their daily responsibilities.
During this introduction course, you'll also be instructed in etiquette and how to greet members of the family - this is presumably where you perfect your curtsy and the correct formal address (that's 'ma'am' like jam to you, thanks very much). Like any job, there'll be humdrum moments, although in this case, they'll be a little more grand than the coffee run: one footman recalled having to take the batteries out of his alarm clock for Prince Harry's Christmas presents, and on another occasion, escort a nervous nail technician to the palace so Prince Andrew could get his nails clipped.
Once you settle into the gig, you can expect to act as a sometime royal confidante. Simon Morgan, a former royal protection officer for the Queen and Prince Charles, noted that private encounters such as walking the dogs can invite more personal conversations about trivial and important matters.
Will and Kate are said to lead a very informal home life, especially in their Norfolk residence Anmer Hall - where Kate is said to even open the door to her house herself, without an army of maids and butlers to do the honours - so you can look forward to the odd chat to diffuse all that hard-hitting business talk.
You'll be glad of it, as former staff report having zero time to socialise. In 2017, Will and Kate's housekeeper at Anmer Hall, Sadie Rice, quit after "the job's demands got too much, even for her", a source told The Sun.
"They wanted her to spend more time at Kensington Palace in London and her work was increasing all the time.
"She wasn't having a normal life outside of her work," the source added. The salary for the diary co-ordinator role is not disclosed, but jobs at the palace are notoriously poorly paid.
Last year, it was revealed that Buckingham Palace cleaners are paid less than the London living wage, while footmen can earn as little as £15,000 for entry-level jobs, and gardeners in some royal residences receive £18,000 for a 40-hour week.
Top staff are more handsomely compensated. A social media specialist is reportedly paid £50,000 a year, while Kate's private secretary is believed to earn six figures, much like the Queen's, who gets £146,000 a year.
Other vacancies mention tantalising benefits, including 33 days holiday, a 15% employer contribution pension scheme and free lunches.
Certain roles, such as those for kitchen porters, chefs and footmen, offer accommodation at the palace with meals provided (with a salary adjustment).
This accommodation is less glamorous than it sounds, however. Staff apartments tend to be modest, compared to the rest of the palace and small in size with basic mod cons.
Staff have also spoken about film screenings at the Buckingham Palace cinema, which are often hosted before the titles are officially released thanks to the royals' advance showings.
And for Christmas, the Queen personally presents staff with a gift, a very handy collector's item; Will and Kate are likely to follow suit.
On top of this, of course, you'll have access to extraordinary people and places. Former royal butler Grant Harrold reminisced to Town & Country about invitations to Christmas parties, tea parties and balls. "A fond memory of mine is getting to dance with the Queen at the Gillies Ball in the Balmoral ballroom," he said.
But no matter how many introductions to the Dalai Lama or private tours of works by the Dutch Old Masters, you'll never forget that you're still on the outside.
"You are very fortunate to be in these positions, to travel by private charter, or travel first class, or to be on super-yachts, or to eat in some of the nicest restaurants the world can offer, but it's just a job," said former protection officer Morgan. "You go back to your two-up two-down home and life carries on."
- Meadhbh McGrath co-hosts the royal podcast HeirHeads, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, TuneIn and Stitcher