Queen Mother looks for her Jeeves in Reading dole queue

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The Independent Online

It is a vacancy Jeeves might dream of, but the Queen Mother has chosen a Reading newspaper to advertise for an under butler, because she is anxious to give unemployed men outside London a job opportunity.

The discreet advertisement was placed in the Reading Evening Post last Thursday, at the cost of pounds 2.75 a line. It said simply: "Under Butler required for Royal Household in London. Please apply to the Comptroller, Clarence House."

A spokeswoman for the Queen Mother, whose head butler has served her for 46 years, confirmed her enthusiasm for widening the net.

"That is a policy and has been since unemployment was really bad," the spokeswoman said.

For the small but flourishing world of butlers, it is a unique chance to take one of the most prestigious jobs in the field.

Although the Royal Family often pay less than the average pounds 25,000 salary, and are more traditional than most employees, it also offers the best perks. According to Ivor Spencer, who runs an international butler school and has provided staff for the Duke and Duchess of York, King Hussein of Jordan and Rupert Murdoch, the job will involve serving food, cleaning silver, opening the door and answering the telephone.

"It's a lovely job. The wages wouldn't be as much as outside, but you wouldn't work as hard, and the perks are marvellous.

"There's a swimming pool, a football club, and you live in this magnificent place," Mr Spencer said.

The Queen Mother's policy of advertising outside London is shared by Buckingham Palace.

Two young men from Toxteth, Liverpool, who were given scholarships to attend the Spencer course, which costs pounds 3,150, were taken on by Prince Edward and Prince Andrew when they finished.

"When they went to see the manager who was responsible for the positions, he said: 'Don't mess me around' because he didn't realise they were trained.

"But they provided him with their diplomas and were given the jobs," Mr Spencer said. The single greatest requirement of a royal butler is discretion, and the successful applicant will sign a confidentiality document.

Graduates from the International Butler's School did not even wish to discuss their applications.

Most royal servants either leave within three years, or remain for life, but if the successful applicant does move on from Clarence House, he can expect an enthusiastic reception from other employers, especially in the United States. The job would also be very different.

Clarence House would not reveal the number of applicants it has received since Thursday.

Reading Job Centre said it did not have any butlers on its books, but it is understood that the advertisement has been taken up enthusiastically.