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Queen's head of household delays retirement following concerns of pay freezes

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·2-min read
File photo dated 22/05/13 of Queen Elizabeth II alongside the Lord Chamberlain, the Earl Peel, who has delayed his retirement because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Queen Elizabeth II alongside the Lord Chamberlain, the Earl Peel, at a garden party in 2013. (PA Images)

The head of the Queen’s household is to stay on in his role and delay his retirement owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lord Chamberlain, Earl Peel, was due to retire at the end of 2020 but is staying on until his successor can be found, Buckingham Palace said.

The palace did not comment on the timescale for his replacement.

Lord Peel has been a key figure in the royal household for since 2006 and he ensures smooth running of all the departments.

In May 2020, it emerged he had emailed royal staff to warn them that the coronavirus pandemic was likely to have an adverse effect on the finances.

He said at that point it could be “months” before returning to business as usual adding: “There are undoubtedly very difficult times ahead and we realise many of you will be concerned.”

Lord Peel, who is a direct descendant of 19th Century Conservative Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, oversaw the household during the 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and the overhaul of the funding of the royals, with the introduction of the Sovereign Grant.

File photo dated 08/02/07 of the Lord Chamberlain, the Earl Peel, who has delayed his retirement because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Lord Chamberlain, the Earl Peel, here in 2007, has delayed his retirement because of the coronavirus pandemic. (PA Images)

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He also introduced the Queen to Commander Lucy D’Orsi with whom Her Majesty ended up having an unguarded conversation about “very rude” Chinese officials.

The incident took place at the 2016 Buckingham Palace garden party, shortly after the Chinese state visit, and Commander D’Orsi had been Gold Commander for the visit.

The Queen said the posting was “bad luck” before saying the ambassador had been “very rude”.

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The palace did not comment at the time, calling it a private conversation.

The role of Lord Chamberlain pays around £90,000 a year and is part-time, involving overseeing regular meetings of all heads of department.

Lord Peel has also approved senior appointments in the household and is the channel of communication between the Queen and the House of Lords.

The position dates from the Middle Ages, when the King’s Chamberlain would act as the monarch’s spokesman in parliament or council.

A white staff and gold key are the symbols of the Lord Chamberlain’s office and are carried on ceremonial occasions. The staff is traditionally broken over the grave of the monarch he served when they die.

The Lord Chamberlain’s office, separate to the Lord Chamberlain, organises royal weddings, funerals, garden parties and the state opening of parliament.

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