It’s not particularly surprising that the British Royal Household has an enormous staff that works to keep the daily lives of the royal family running smoothly and efficiently. Like most enormous employers, the salaries of the organization’s employees vary wildly. As reported by the The Mirror, Queen Elizabeth II’s annual income was £82 million in 2018 in addition to her private net worth of £415 million. Controversy arose when the Royal Household posted available jobs in housekeeping at Buckingham Palace that paid just £8.17 per hour, which is £2.03 less than the recommended London Living Wage of £10.20.
Not all of the Queen’s employees are underpaid, however. Take the Master of the Household whose “responsibilities [include] being in charge of the domestic staff in the Royal Kitchens, the pages and footmen, and the housekeeper and her staff.” As of 2013, the Master of the Household made £122,000 annually, according to the The Evening Standard. That same year, the position was filled by Vice-Admiral Sir Anthony Johnstone-Burt, who continues to hold it to this day.
Master of The House: From NATO to Buckingham Palace
Johnstone-Burt joined the staff of the Royal Household after a long career with the British Royal Navy, per the Haberdashers’ Company website. After joining the Navy in 1977, he went on to be promoted to Lieutenant, Commanding Officer of the HMS Brave, Deputy Commander, Chief of Staff of the Joint Helicopter Command, Commander of the Joint Helicopter Command, Director of Counter Narcotics and International Organised Crime at Headquarters International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, Afghanistan, Director of Counter Narcotics and International Organised Crime at Headquarters International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, Afghanistan, and finally — after being promoted to Vice Admiral — served as Chief of Staff to NATO’s Supreme Allied Command Transformation before accepting the position of Master of the Household. It’s safe to say that the man who spent his career running both literal and figuratively tight ships probably keeps Buckingham Palace operating quite smoothly.
Per Royal Central, the Master of the House Department was first established in 1539. There were originally four Masters of the Household, but in the seventeenth century, it was reduced to one Master. The job was primarily an honorary one with few responsibilities until Prince Albert “reorganized the structure in the 1840s.” Today the Department consists of 250 employees and is the largest one in the Royal Household.
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