I spent an afternoon at royal butler school with Prince Charles' former butler, and it taught me that anyone can work at the palace
- Grant Harrold was
Prince Charles' butlerfrom 2004 until 2011.
- I enrolled at Harrold's butler school, where he taught me the basics of the profession.
- I learned that the British stereotype of what it means to be a butler is changing for the better.
I've known Grant Harrold, former butler to Prince Charles, for two years. During that time, we've spoken about almost everything royal related, from quarantine etiquette to how to master the Queen's iconic wave, and even his opinion on "The Crown."
We never spoke about what it takes to become a royal butler - until a couple of weeks ago, when I enrolled at his butler school.
Harrold, who worked at the royal household from 2004 until 2011, opened the school at Blenheim Palace in 2015. The 10-day course, which costs $5,500 (£4,000) per person, has temporarily closed its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the meantime, Harrold is offering his services through online classes.
While most of his classes last for at least a couple of hours, Harrold was able to accommodate my busy work schedule and offered me a 40-minute introductory course over Zoom. It completely changed my perspective on the profession.
Harrold wants to break the stereotype that only British males can be butlers
The class consisted of an online PowerPoint presentation and a demonstration on how to correctly set a table.
Since I previously learned about table setting during Harrold's quarantine etiquette class last year, I was more interested in the presentation, which taught the basics of how to be a butler.
Harrold began by explaining how to correctly greet members of the royal family, saying that butlers would usually start by saying: "How do you do?"
He said the Queen greets people by saying: "Nice to see you."
Instantly, I wondered whether Her Majesty intentionally says this instead of "nice to meet you" in case she meets someone for the second or third time but doesn't remember previously being introduced to them.
After all, the
Harrold said being a butler is about following tradition - but he's not afraid to give these traditions an update for the next generation.
"To be a butler - this is one thing I have been taught by a royal - was always said to be a gentleman's gentleman," Harrold said. "Forgive the expression. I'm very careful with words today, because I'm passionate about anyone doing the course. Gender, race, background, it doesn't matter - people should be able to do any careers they want."
Harrold added that some of his clients worried that their gender or nationality would prevent them from entering the industry due to the stereotype of the British male butler.
"There are more ladies coming in, but nine times out of 10 it will be a man," he said.
"I have noticed there are more female butlers at the palace, and I know friends who have female butlers. It's not commonplace at all, but it should be. The British stereotype is that the butler is a man, but that's not right. I would be very proud if I had a group of all-females taking my course," he added.
Harrold says there's one important quality required to become a butler
Learning the difference between etiquette, manners, and protocol is certainly essential when training to become a butler.
It's also important to learn how to adapt your speech.
Harrold, who was born in Scotland, said he had to think more carefully about what he was saying and slow down his speech when speaking with Prince Charles. The royal once had trouble understanding what Harrold was saying during what he described as a "really awkward" phone call.
However, the most important quality required to be a butler is simple, according to Harrold: "Be truthful."
"All of my employers, including the royals, have always said that," Harrold said. "Be truthful, loyal, and discreet. You can't give away their secrets; they are trusting you in their home."
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