my twenty-two years of service to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, and the
Prince and Princess of Wales, I have been fortunate to witness the ultimate in
stylish and elegant entertaining, from private and intimate family occasions at
Sandringham and Highgrove to grand and lavish State Banquets for presidents, kings
and queens. My memories of such events have led me to write my books, and share
with you my experiences.
was a far cry from the luxury of Buckingham Palace. I was born into an ordinary
working-class family and lived in a small terraced house in the village of Grassmoor,
a coal-mining community in the north of England. I vividly remember visiting London
for the first time with my family when I was eight years old. Over the years I
have often been reminded that while watching the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham
Palace, I turned to my parents and said, "One day I'm going to work here."
it was not until recently that I discovered that it was my mother who chose my
destiny, for which I will always be grateful. At her funeral, standing by her
graveside, my younger brother turned to me and said, There is something
you should know. Paul
told me of an incident which had happened many years previously, while I was away
at college. I had asked my mother to open all my mail during my absence. Two letters
arrived on the same day, one bearing the Royal crest and offering me a position
as a footman in the Royal household, the other from the Cunard offering me a position
as steward on board the QEII. Fearing that I might choose a life at sea, my mother
burned the letter from Cunard on the coal fire, swearing my brother to secrecy
for the rest of her life. It was a very poignant moment.
so it was at the age of eighteen I joined the staff of Buckingham Palace as a
household footman, and my new life and career began.
only a year, I became the Queen's personal footman, and soon began traveling with
her and Prince Philip to almost every corner or the world. My experiences of Royal
tours will remain with me for the rest of my life. From walking along the Great
Wall of China with the Queen, to a visit to the remote South Pacific Island of
Tuvalu aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, or a visit to Tutankhamun exhibition
in Cairo with the Princess of Wales - each tour was unique and holds very special
On one official visit to Saudi
Arabia the Sultans advisers ushered me into a cupboard in the Royal apartments
before the Sultan and the Queen arrived. Apparently it was not protocol for staff
to be in the Royal presence. Imagine Her Majestys surprise when she had
occasion to open the cupboard door, only to find me inside looking totally bemused!
all our visits we were treated to sumptuous banquets where exotic foods such as
truffles and caviar would be served on the finest china and silver. However, in
complete contrast and in line with local traditions and customs, we were also
encouraged to sample the more acquired taste of delicacies - the most memorable
being sheeps eyes and monkeys brains served on banana leaves and coconut
Entertaining in the Royal Household
was more conventional. I attended and participated in the organization of Her
Majestys State Banquests and receptions for world leaders and heads of state,
including the visits of President and Mrs. Reagan at Windsor Castle, and the visit
of his Holiness Pope John Paul II at Buckingham Palace.
1987, I was asked by the Prince and Princess of Wales to join their household
at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire. I became butler to the most famous couple
in the world and responsible for their private entertaining both at home and abroad,
and on official and private visits. Five years later, when the Royal couple sadly
separated, the Princess was ask to compile a list of everything she would wish
to take from Highgrove to her apartment in Kensington Palace. Much later I learned
that at the top of her wish list was my name.
me, the Princess was the personification of style, and it was my privilege to
serve and know such a unique and inspirational human being. From her I learnt
that simplicity is often the most tasteful and attractive approach to entertaining.
I remained in her service until her tragic death in the late summer of 1997.
career with the Royal Households was extraordinary. I was given so many opportunities
to see the world and experience situations which I could otherwise only imagined.
I poured vintage wines into crystal glasses, served delicious food from silver
platters on to fine bone china, and decorated rooms and tables with beautiful
As recognition of my service
to the Royal Family, I was decorated by the Queen with the Royal Victorian Medal
at the investiture at Buckingham Palace in November 1997. I will treasure this
proud moment, which I shared with my family, for the rest of my life, in the knowledge
that I am the only person to have been awarded the RVM for service to Diana, Princess
Enjoy my Official Website!