Queen Elizabeth II employs a lot of people. Most monarchs have around 1,000 staff in their royal homes, and some of the roles are weird and wonderful.
While many jobs in Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and others are what you’d expect — housekeepers, gardeners and chefs, for example — others are a bit more niche.
For instance, did you know there’s a person who is predominantly in charge of the swans? Or that The Queen has someone to look after her stamps?
Here are some of the most surprising jobs you can get working for the Royal Family, most of which you’ve probably never heard of.
Reading this make you forget what century we’re living in, so this list is ranked by the year each role was created, starting with the oldest.
The Queen’s Bargemaster — 1215
Being in charge of royal barges is mostly a ceremonial role nowadays. However, in the 18th century in particular, there was a lot more to do, because the sovereign would travel on the River Thames by barge quite regularly.
The Bargemaster is responsible for 24 Royal Watermen, who each receive an annual salary of £3.50 — so it’s likely they have other jobs.
Master of the Horse — 1360
The Master of the Horse is another honorary position, held by Samuel Vestey, 3rd Baron Vestey. He is required to attend all ceremonial occasions where the Queen might be riding on horseback or in a horse-drawn carriage, such as the State Opening of Parliament and Trooping the Colour. He is also responsible for inspections of the Royal Mews, or stables.
Master of the Queen’s Music — 1625
This role is given for a period of ten years to a prominent musician. It’s currently held by composer Judith Weir, who was appointed in 2014 after Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the first to be given the job for a decade.
The post was abolished in 1649 when the monarchy was overthrown, but reinstituted in 1660.
There are no set responsibilities, but Masters of the Queen’s Music can compose for royal or state occasions. For example, Weir arranged a special version of the national anthem “God Save the Queen” during King Richard III’s re-burial in March 2015.
Astronomer Royal — 1675
The senior Astronomer Royal is currently Martin Rees, who is the Baron of Ludlow. He has held the position since 1995 and although it’s mostly an honorary title, he is expected to be available for consultation on scientific matters.
Her Majesty’s Botanist — 1699
Botanist Professor Stephen Blackmore was appointed as Her Majesty’s Botanist in 2010. The office was created in 1699, but since 1956 it has been honorary position for someone with a passion for gardening.
Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland — 1838
Sir John Robert Steell was the first Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland. One of his most famous works was the sculpture of The Duke of Wellington on Princes Street.
The first appointment was made by Queen Victoria in around 1838, and the role was made permanent in 1921. The current sculptor in the role is Alexander Stoddart who primarily works on figurative sculpture in clay, according to the BBC.
Piper to the Sovereign — 1843
This has been a position since Queen Victoria created it in 1843. The piper must play under the Queen’s window every week day at 9 a.m. for around 15 minutes when she is in residence at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, or Balmoral Castle.
It’s a very prestigious position, and only 15 pipers have had the role since its inception. The position is currently held by Scott Methven from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
There was also a Piper to the Queen Mother until 2002.
Keeper of the Queen’s Stamps — 1890 (approx)
The Queen reportedly isn’t as big a fan of stamp collecting as her father George V was. However, she acquired a huge collection from him and thinks it should be preserved.
Since 2003, keen stamp collector Michael Sefi has been in charge of the collection and travels around the world adding to the collection.
Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures — 1972
Desmond Shawe-Taylor is the current Surveyor, who was appointed in 2005. His main responsibilities are the care and maintenance of all the paintings that hang on the walls of the palaces.
Warden of the Swans and Marker of the Swans — 1993
These were once one job, called the Keeper of the Swans, but in 1993 it was decided one man simply wasn’t enough — the duties were then divided into Warden of the Swans and Marker of the Swans, and the roles are currently held by Professor Christopher Perrins, LVO and David Barber, MVO.
Their main responsibility is an annual census of swans on the Thames, in a process called swan-upping. Historically, this meant gathering up a swan for a royal banquet. Since this is frowned upon nowadays, it now consists of a count and health check.
The Queen’s Flag Sergeant — 1997
Since 1997, the Queen’s Flag Sergeant has been responsible for raising and lowering the Union Flag when her Majesty is not in residence in the palaces.
The role changed the year Princess Diana died because there was public outrage when the palace did not fly a flag at half mast. Since then, the Union Flag flies whenever the Queen is not home, and flies at half mast when Royal Family members die, or when there is a period of national mourning, such as after a terror attack.
The position is currently held by Lance Sergeant Nathan Bowen from the Household Division Brigade of Guards.
Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales — 2000
This role was discontinued during Queen Victoria’s reign in 1871. However, the harp is an important part of Welsh tradition, so Prince Charles brought the position back in 2000 to raise the profile of the harp as an instrument. Since 2015, Anne Denholm has been in the role.
The Royal Shoe-Wearer — 2000 (approx)
One of the Queen’s wardrobe staffers is responsible for breaking in her shoes. Her stylist Stewart Parvin explained it’s necessary so she doesn’t get uncomfortable or painful feet while wearing them at events, according to The Telegraph.
If you had to wear heels every day at 90 years old, you’d probably appreciate a shoe-wearer too.
The Grand Carver — N/A
If there’s one thing the Queen shouldn’t be expected to do, it’s carve her own meat. Whoever has the role of Grand Carver carves up the roast meat on special occasions. Currently, the Earl of Denbigh and Desmond holds the position, and it has probably been around as long as the Royal Family has had dinners.
It is a hereditary position, meaning it’s inherited from person to person, so apparently you need the right DNA to be able to carve properly. The Master Carver of Scotland is a separate role.
The Royal Horological Conservator — N/A
There are over 1,000 clocks, barometers, and thermometers at Windsor Castle and the other Royal residences. They’re not digital either, so someone has to wind them, repair them, and keep them working. Many of them are priceless, and are gifts royals have given to each other over the centuries, so there has probably been a royal horologist for a long time.
This all requires a highly skilled and knowledgeable horologist, because it requires making parts for clockwork that could be hundreds of years old.
There are other jobs you can do for the Royal Family. Can you match the job and the task it includes?
a. is in charge of the domestic staff in the Royal Kitchens, the pages and footmen, and the housekeeper and her staff
b. is to decorate over a thousand rooms in the royal homes
3. groom for the horses
c. assists the team by maintaining the wash-up environment, ensuring the chefs and assistants have all they need to deliver hundreds of staff meals every day
4. curtain maker
d. is responsible for the financial management of the Royal Household
5. digital communication officer
e. rides the Queen’s horses every day, trains foals, and cleans the stables
6. social media specialist
f. runs the royal Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube channels
7. master of the household
g. the chief male servant of a household, usually in charge of serving food, the care of silverware etc.
8. keeper of the privy purse
h. managing high profile websites and needs to be comfortable developing strategy and managing wide-reaching projects