Royal household withdraw advert for maid in wage row

The Queen awaits the arrival of Alex Salmond for an audience at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the monarch's official Scottish residence. Picture: Getty
The Queen awaits the arrival of Alex Salmond for an audience at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the monarch's official Scottish residence. Picture: Getty
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THE Royal household has withdrawn an advert for a £12,000-a-year maid at the Queen’s official residence in Scotland after the salary was attacked for exploiting low-paid employees by paying just the minimum wage.

The 37.5 hours-per-week job appeared earlier this month on the Royal website at a ­salary more than £2,000 less than a similar post at ­Balmoral, the Queen’s holiday home on Deeside that was advertised last October.

The successful applicant for the £232 per week post will clean the accommodation used by the Royal Family, caring for antiques and “meeting and greeting” guests at official functions

But critics say Buckingham Palace staff have been shamed into withdrawing the job offer – which included live-in accommodation at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh – because of the low wages.

Peter Kelly, director of the Scottish Poverty Alliance, said the offer was “bang on” the minimum wage – £6.19 an hour for workers over the age of 21 – which would produce an annual salary of £12,070.

“The Royal Household should pay at least the £7.45 an hour living wage the Alliance is campaigning for”, Kelly said. “The Queen has just got a pay rise and she should pass some of it on for this job.

“This post was advertised at bang on the minimum wage. A certain element of prestige goes with it because of the employer but that should not be exploited. Prestige does not pay bills, which are going up.”

The Edinburgh-based job ­requires an employee who is “meticulous, with a close ­attention to detail”.

“The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence in Scotland of Her Majesty The Queen,” the job description read prior to withdrawal. “It is also one of Scotland’s premier visitor attractions, open throughout the year and drawing 250,000 visitors annually.

“As part of the Housekeeping team you will carry out a range of duties including: the cleaning and presentation of accommodation; the care of antiques and specialist ­cleaning; and meeting, ­greeting and guiding guests at functions and events.

“You will have a passion for the hospitality industry and ideally some practical ­hospitality experience; be meticulous, with a close attention to detail; thrive in a busy, team- focused environment; be enthusiastic, show initiative and be keen to learn; have a hard-working, flexible and positive attitude; and be ­committed to achieving ­exceptional standards of ­service provision.”

Applications were originally to close on Wednesday.

Graham Smith, chief ­executive of the anti-monarchy organisation Republic, said the Royal Household had been shamed into removing the job. “The salary is quite typical – they are not good payers for those sort of jobs,” Smith said.

“They have the money to spend and they should pay people a decent living wage. Their PR people obviously ­realised the fallout from this advert and it was withdrawn.

“The top people in the Royal Household – like the accountants – get paid well but the lower ranks get paid menial amounts which reflects their [the Royals’] hierarchical view of the world.”

The minimum wage for workers aged 21 and over will increase by 12p from £6.19 to £6.31 an hour in October.

In contrast, the Queen is to receive an inflation-busting 5 per cent “pay rise” next year, giving her an annual income of £37.9 million.

The so-called Sovereign Grant – formerly a mix of the Civil List and government grants – is taken from the Crown Estate, a wealthy ­portfolio of agricultural land, sea bed, buildings and property, ranging from a retail park in Liverpool to London’s Regent Street and Ascot racecourse – which has historically belonged to the monarchy but the profits of which have, since the reign of George III, gone to the Treasury

Kelly added: “In some ways what the Royal Household is doing is paying the rate that has been established and for many hospitality jobs the ­minimum wage is the established rate.

“But I would imagine the Royal Household should be in a position to pay at least a ­living wage. If employers value and want to retain their staff they should pay them a proper wage. If a bit of shame has made the Royal Household withdraw this advert and it is re-advertised with a decent wage then that is no bad thing.

“Low pay remains a very real problem across the UK and for hundreds of thousands of workers in Scotland.”

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said the ­advertisement had been “posted in error”.

He said: “There is a vacancy and its details are still being worked out. It will be advertised on the website.”

He declined to reveal what the new salary will be.