On 18 January 1817, the Prince Regent and future King George IV smacked his lips with glee at the sight of the 127 dishes spread-out before him and joyously contemplated the four-foot high Turkish mosque constructed entirely out of marzipan: another glorious day of unemployment.
He would have been alarmed, to say the least, upon hearing of his descendants wishing to complete weeks of unpaid work experience.
Yet, several members of the Royal Family have shaken the stigma that Royalty do not need ‘real jobs’. They have, in fact, had to go through the same rites of passage as the rest of us.
Princess Beatrice, who left Goldsmiths University with a 2:1 in History, obtained a work experience placement at Sony Pictures, a branch of Sony Entertainment, which led to a modest and short-lived £20,000 a year job.
Prior to her time at university, Princess Beatrice, who is seventh in line to the throne, worked briefly as an unpaid VIP personal shopper at Selfridges.
Her younger sister, Princess Eugenie, who graduated from Newcastle University with a 2:1 in History of Art, undertook a six-week work experience stint at the prestigious Christie’s auction house, which has an increasingly high demand for their two-week unpaid, no expenses work experience scheme in London. This placement may have helped land her new job at Hauser and Wirth Gallery as an associate director.
However, both princesses received criticism during their respective placements. Princess Eugenie, in particular, was scorned for having her security guard constantly in tow during her work experience which, admittedly, may seem rather off-putting to employers.
Princess Beatrice was criticised as ‘workshy’ for giving-up her Sony job and jetting-off on at least four holidays, indicating the job was, in fact, superfluous. She is now concentrating on her career as a full-time philanthropist.
Denmark’s Prince Joachim, after studying agrarian economics, secured work experience at the shipping, oil, and agricultural company A.P Moller Maersk Group before running his own farming and forestry operations.
In terms of the more prominent members of the British Royal Family, Prince Harry completed a period of work experience at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst prior to his training as an officer cadet. In the same year, his brother, William, worked unpaid for two days at The Royal Marsden Hospital, as well as helping out in the catering department.
Prince William’s longest work experience was his fortnight at Chatsworth House, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Here, he spent his time dressed in overalls, performing small manual labour tasks as well as making sausage rolls and mince pies – as Christine Robinson revealed in her book The Housekeeper’s Tale some ten years later.
Robinson, who formed part of the work team at the estate, commented on how William could be seen “carrying planks of wood through the shop, dressed in workmen’s clothes.” It seems unlikely that his father, Charles, who reportedly has had four valets to help undress him, and a servant to squeeze his toothpaste, looked fondly upon William’s work placement.
Bemused visitors of Chatsworth House unknowingly remarked on the young labourer’s surprising resemblance to the second in line to the throne. William eventually admitted to one elderly couple his true identity, who were apparently charmed by his manner to them.
With average housing prices rising to almost nine times the local salary in England and Wales, competition through work experience and internships for high paid jobs is fierce. It seems that useful contacts are still the best way to obtain a placement. Sony declined to comment on whether Princess Beatrice acquired her placement through merit.
In recent years, the battle for the right contacts has been rivalled by the means to place the highest bid. Westminster School in London auctioned a mini pupillage for over £800 for charity, and the Conservative party controversially auctioned off work experience placements averaging £3,000 at its black-and-white ball in 2011.
The most extortionate offer to date seems to be a week spent with Anna Wintour at Vogue, auctioned off to the highest bidder for $42,000 in 2010 from the website CharityBuzz.
Perhaps, with his notorious interest in fashion, the Prince Regent may not have snubbed the prospect of work experience at Vogue – although his gluttonous appetite may have caused Anna Wintour’s eyes to widen behind her dark lenses.
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