A civil service trade union has criticised the decision to give redundancy notices to King Charles’s staff during the period of mourning as “nothing short of heartless”.
The Guardian reported on Monday that up to 100 employees at the King’s former official residence, including some who have worked there for decades, received notification that they could lose their jobs following his accession to the throne.
Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), said: “While some changes across the households were to be expected, as roles across the royal family change, the scale and speed at which this has been announced is callous in the extreme. Least of all because we do not know what staffing the incoming Prince of Wales and his family might need.
He added that the union, which represents some palace workers, was working to ensure staff have “full job security”, and that it continued to support other royal staff concerned that their “futures are thrown into turmoil by this announcement at this already difficult time”.
Clarence House staff are not believed to have a recognised union available to them.
Clarence House, located next to St James’s Palace in central London, is the official London residence of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. King Charles’s and Camilla’s offices will move to Buckingham Palace after the death of the Queen, and staff had expected to be transferred.
Some people in the crowd outside Buckingham Palace on Monday night were shocked at the Guardian’s revelations about the handling of redundancies at Clarence House.
The podiatrist Christhell Hobbs, 57, a regular attender at royal events, said: “I think it’s sad. They have families they have to support.”
Hobbs, who left Fairlight, near Hastings in East Sussex, first thing in the morning to see the Queen’s coffin arrive on Tuesday evening, added: “Many of them have put in many good years of service and now they’re told, ‘We don’t want you’. You have to be human about this.”
Korina Massicat, 22, a politics student at Durham University from east London, agreed: “[These are] people who’ve been working hard and are faithful and loyal. Nobody deserves to be fired because someone dies.”
Lexi, 26, a fashion student at Central Saint Martins in London, said: “It’s quite shocking. I don’t get it, she only just passed away. It’s more important to get the funeral done – I don’t think this was a good time to do it right now.”
Gary Taylor, 54, a property developer from Gray’s End, said: “It is bad timing. It’s not what you would expect because it’s so soon.”
Many in the crowd refused to believe the news, even after they had been shown it online. One woman said it was “scaremongering”, while another said that people were not “prepared to hear negative stuff at the moment.”
Private secretaries, the finance office, the communications team and household staff are among those who received redundancy notices during the thanksgiving service for the Queen at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh on Monday.
The BBC reported it understood that the royal household had received legal advice that the information be shared with staff at the earliest opportunity, despite efforts to delay the announcement until after the Queen’s funeral.
Staff who are made redundant are expected to be offered the opportunity to take up alternative employment across all royal households, assistance in finding new jobs externally and an “enhanced” redundancy payment beyond the statutory minimum.
A small number of staff providing personal support to Charles and Camilla will remain in post, though no final decisions are understood to have been taken ahead of the consultation period, which begins after Monday’s funeral.