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Who's who in the royal pecking order

JAPANESE working practices have not yet penetrated the Queen's Household. Only senior figures in the hierarchy, known as Members, are allowed to eat in the Household dining room, where they are served by liveried footmen.

Those closest to the Queen - department heads and ladies-in-waiting - can expect grace-and-favour residences (the Queen owns 135), Wimbledon tickets and invitations to Balmoral and Sandringham, with overnight accommodation and a valet or maid to press their clothes.

Beneath them are the Officials, who also have their own eating arrangements. They are responsible for the Household's administration: such people as the Deputy Maintenance Manager (R Mole) and the Secretary to the Private Secretary (Mrs J Bean, LVO). Officials are never promoted to be Members and - according to Palace folklore - would not wish to be.

Finally, there are the Staff - the Sauce Chef, the Pages of the Backstairs and of the Presence, down to the most junior footmen. They eat at a cafeteria in the Servants' Hall and have few perks. Off-duty men, however, may wear the Royal Household Social Club tie (navy blue, maroon and thin gold stripes).

To avoid confusion between Members, Officials and Staff, there are rules about forms of address. A Member uses another Member's first name: as in, 'Good morning, Robert, how was the shooting at Sandringham?' An Official uses a Member's proper title: as in, 'Good morning, Sir Robert, I'm afraid these accounts don't add up.'

Officials call each other by surnames with titles: as in, 'Good morning, Mrs Jones (Assistant Personnel Officer), one of the footmen will have to go.'

Staff call Members and Officials 'sir' or 'madam'. They call junior staff by first name, senior staff (the Palace Steward, for instance) by surname and correct title. There is one anomaly: unmarried housekeepers have the courtesy title of 'Mrs'.

To the Queen, courtiers say, these distinctions could not matter less. From the Mistress of the Robes to the Yeoman of the Glass and China Pantry, all are essential to her well-being, and that is how she sees them.