What is the 'death clause' and how will it impact royal staffers?

·3-min read
Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chris Jackson - Getty Images

Earlier this week it was announced that dozens of Clarence House staff had been told their jobs were at risk following King Charles III's accession to the throne.

During Monday's Thanksgiving Service to Her Majesty – who passed away on 8 September at the age of 96 – Clarence House staff members were told that redundancies were "unavoidable" in a letter from Sir Clive Alderton, the King’s top aide.

The Guardian reported that private secretaries, the finance office, the communications team and household staff were among those who had been warned of redundancies, as the offices of King Charles III and the Queen Consort move to Buckingham Palace. Although Alderton’s announcement did note that certain staff providing "direct, close, personal support and advice" to the new King and Queen Consort would remain in their position.

One source told The Guardian that everyone was "absolutely livid" and some were left "visibly shaken" at the move as they assumed their roles would be amalgamated into the King’s new household.

In light of the news, a spokesperson said that Clarence House was working to find alternative roles for employees.

Photo credit: Jeff Spicer - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jeff Spicer - Getty Images

Now, former royal aides have told The Times that they were given contracts that ended six months after the Queen died – a 'death clause' so to speak. They added that within the six-month grace period following the monarch's death, they could either be kept on by the new King, reassigned within the Royal Family or made redundant.

"Each household has their own retinue of top advisers and it becomes a duplication of staff when the sovereign has gone," one of the former staffers said.

As such, some royal staffers have said the news should not have come as a shock to staff. "Trust me, it's not a shock for the household," Grant Harrold, former butler to King Charles III when he was the Prince of Wales, told the BBC. "When I joined, I was fully aware that if the Queen passed I would be redundant because my boss is no longer the Prince of Wales."

"The good thing is, I know they will do everything possible to make sure that people are put into positions where possible – and, as I said, there will be people that want to retire or want a change of career," he added.

No final decisions have been made yet about the future of Clarence House staffers, as a consultation period – which will begin after the state funeral on Monday – needs to be completed first.

"Following last week’s accession, the operations of the household of the former Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have ceased and, as required by law, a consultation process has begun," a Clarence House spokesperson said. "Our staff have given long and loyal service and, while some redundancies will be unavoidable, we are working urgently to identify alternative roles for the greatest possible number of staff."

Cosmopolitan UK has reached out to the Royal Household for comment.

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