Are You a Very English Butler? The U.Okay. Authorities Wants You


LONDON — Of the present vacancies within the British authorities’s tons of of job listings for coverage and technique advisers, one stands out. Needed: 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, based on 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 resembling 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 College 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 assume 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.

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

In accordance 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 an entire. The place’s obligations embody managing inventory and objects price as a lot as £three million, in addition to guaranteeing the graceful operating of food and drinks service for occasions with as many as 350 friends.

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

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

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

“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 employees. “You don’t use diplomats to do this; it’s not of their coaching,” Mr. Rifkind mentioned. “It will 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 just isn’t new, and there are at present three authorities butlers on payroll.

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

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

“The folks you take care of and the repute 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.

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

The Overseas Workplace mentioned that 70 p.c of workers who left jobs there had cited poor pay as the primary 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 condominium for one in every of 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 just isn’t the one company hiring for the old school position.

A job emptiness for a trainee butler appeared in January on the Royal Family web site, the place positions working for the British royal household are posted, providing a wage of £19,935 a 12 months, plus advantages.

One of many perks: The place relies in Buckingham Palace, the official headquarters of the British monarchy, and is a live-in position.

The Overseas Workplace butlers are anticipated to search out their very own housing.

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