Palaces charity that runs Kensington Palace is set to axe 145 jobs

Palaces charity that runs Kensington Palace and Tower of London is set to axe 145 jobs after income dropped £100m due to Covid

  • Historic Royal Palaces could see 145 jobs axed in proposed restructuring plans
  • The independent charity has seen its income from from £110m to £10m this year
  • Final decisions on the redundancies are being made after a 45-day consultation
  • The charity runs six sites, including the Tower of London and Banqueting House 

The charity that runs Kensington Palace and the Tower of London could axe 145 jobs in proposed restructuring plans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Historic Royal Palaces has entered into ‘consultation on proposed redundancies’, a statement on its website announced on Monday.

It comes after the independent charity’s income dropped from a forecast of £110million to £10million this year in a financial blackhole due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The organisation saw its six sites, including Hampton Court Palace, Kew Palace and the Banqueting House, close during lockdown and expects its recovery to take ‘several years’.

The Historic Royal Palaces, which runs the Tower of London (above), could axe 145 roles as it enters a 45-day consultation period amid financial losses due to Covid-19

The organisation saw its six sites, including Hampton Court Palace (above) and Kew Palace close during lockdown and expects its recovery to take ‘several years’

The statement on the charity’s website read: ‘It is with deep regret that we announce today that Historic Royal Palaces has entered into a period of consultation on proposed redundancies.

‘At the beginning of this year, like so many other organisations in our sector, we could never have imagined we would be in this position. We were forecasting income of £110million and looking forward to a busy year of exhibitions and events. 

‘However, as an entirely self-funded charity, we have been particularly badly hit by the pandemic – both by the closure of our six sites for a prolonged period and by the major downturn in international tourism. 

‘We are now forecasting income of around £10million this year – a reduction of 89%. We expect our recovery to take several years, and that means we must plan to live within half our usual income. We have no choice but to take measures to reduce our costs.’ 

The restructuring proposal puts 145 roles at risk of redundancy with final decisions being made following a 45-day consultation. 

But the self-funding charity insisted that the redundancies would not be on the table ‘if we had not exhausted all other means’, adding that it stopped all but essential spending when the pandemic hit.

The self-funded charity, which looks after Kensington Palace (above), has seen its income drop from £110million to £10million this year due to the coronavirus pandemic


Historic Royal Palaces was founded in 1989 as an Executive Agency of Government within the Department of the Environment. 

Five royal palaces, Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace, were brought together to be run by the independent charity. 

The organisation, which is entirely self-funded, has also looked after Hillsborough Castle and Gardens since 2014.

Unlike the other five palaces, Hillsborough is not owned in right of crown but was bought by the Government from the Hill Family in 1920 as a Government House.

In 1998, Historic Royal Palaces became an independent charity by Royal Charter with a Board of Trustees. It has a contract with the Secretary of State to manage the palaces.

The charity’s job is to protect the palaces and help the public to appreciate the rich monarchical history behind each royal building. 

The organisation raises its own funds and relies on the support of visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers.

In 1995, the organisation was transferred to the Department of National Heritage – now named the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.

From the Royal Household, the Director, Royal Collection Trust and the Keeper of the Privy Purse all sit as Trustees on the Board of Historic Royal Palaces.

The charity had already froze recruitment, ended seasonal contracts and made temporary pay and pension adjustments.

The statement added: ‘We have taken full advantage of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme and are utilising our reserves, which we expect to be exhausted at the beginning of next year. 

‘We continue to pursue all remaining avenues for additional funding and are enormously grateful for the continuing support of our members, donors and visitors.

‘Payroll normally accounts for around half of our costs, but this proportion is much higher with reduced income, and so it remains necessary to make savings in this area.’

Historic Royal Palaces added that ‘further reductions remain necessary’ to ‘withstand the challenging years ahead’ following the coronavirus pandemic.   

It said: ‘The restructuring proposals include a reduction of 86 full time equivalents out of the full complement of 1,165, (this equates to 145 roles potentially at risk of redundancy) plus other changes to terms and conditions.’

The charity raises all of its own funds and relies on support from visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. 

John Barnes, Chief Executive, Historic Royal Palaces, said: ‘At every stage of this crisis, we have tried to limit the impact of the financial challenges on our staff, who care passionately about the palaces and our work. 

‘If we are to continue this work, we must act now to reduce payroll costs and make the charity financially sustainable. 

‘We are privileged to be the guardians of six remarkable places, but the dedicated team who care for them are the spirit of our charity, and we are deeply sad that it has come to this.’

In a statement on the Historic Royal Palaces’s website, it said ‘further reductions remain necessary’ to ‘withstand the challenging years ahead’. Pictured: Banqueting House

This comes soon after a separate royal organisation, the Royal Collection Trust, were set to axe up to half of the Queen’s household staff in cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Royal Collection Trust staff staged a silent protest outside Windsor Castle last Tuesday over plans which reportedly see staff facing pension cuts and 200 compulsory redundancies handed out.

The workers, who manage the public opening of Her Majesty’s residences, demanded ‘loyalty’ from their employers and held a sign saying ‘King Henry cut off heads… now they want to axe our jobs and cut our pensions’.

The reports of compulsory and voluntary redundancies come after the coronavirus crisis has created an £18million blackhole in Her Majesty’s finances.

The Royal Collection Trust, which is one of the five departments of the Royal Household, employs 600 people across the country – including at Buckingham Palace.

The ‘loyal’ workers have duties including conserving the historic Royal Collection, one of the world’s greatest private art collections. 

The Royal Collection Trust is a registered charity which was founded in 1987 and have worked to maintain and conserve the Royal Collection ever since.

It employs people in a wide range of roles in Her Majesty’s household, including as conservationists, curators, merchandisers and in visitor service roles.

The Royal Collection Trust, one of the five departments of the Royal Household, could axe 600 royal staff after Covid-19 created an £18million blackhole in Her Majesty’s finances

The trust is responsible for acquiring appropriate resources to enhance the iconic Collection but it also allows the public to enjoy the Queen’s households.

It manages the public opening of Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

The Royal Collection Trust sit as Trustees on the Board of Historic Royal Palaces, alongside the Keeper of the Privy Purse.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which represents the workers, believes that if staff had been furloughed during the pandemic, when the royal households were not open, the redundancies could have been avoided.

It added that 104 staff showed an interest in voluntary redundancies, with 92 taking them.

There could still be another 200 compulsory redundancies for royal household staff, according to the PCS union.

But workers who are keeping their jobs are still set to face a seven per cent cut to their non-contributory pensions.  

Mark Page, industrial officer at PCS, said: ‘Loyal staff members should not be facing threats like this.

‘Even acknowledging the pandemic, vulnerable staff believe the Royal Household has enough assets to ride out the financial storm having had record numbers of ticket sales and retail sales in recent years.

‘Profits directly attributed to the very department the Royal Household is now penalising.’

Royal staff held a silent protest outside Windsor Castle on Tuesday over the new plans, which could see 200 compulsory redundancies handed out

The Royal Collection Trust’s conservation work is undertaken without any public funding and income is generated from admission, shops and other initiatives. 

A RCT spokesman said: ‘Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the finances of Royal Collection Trust, we have had to take a number of steps to reduce staff-related costs.

‘As well as implementing a pay freeze and offering a voluntary severance programme to employees, we have just completed a period of consultation on a proposed reduction in pension contributions and will be discussing our response with the unions shortly.’

A PCS spokesman said: ‘One hundred and four people expressed an interest in the voluntary redundancy scheme, 92 actually took it up.

‘We are expecting an announcement in the next few days of a compulsory scheme.

‘To make the savings that the management claim they need to make, we believe that they will need to make 200 compulsorily redundant.’ 

The trust also recruit around 350 staff each summer to help front-of-house teams to create a ‘memorable experience from visitors from all over the world’.

The Queen, 94, and Prince Philip, 99, have been cared for at Windsor since lockdown started in mid-March by a devoted team of staff who provide a protective shield – dubbed ‘HMS Bubble’ – around them.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which represents the royal staff, said workers who are keeping their jobs could face a 7% cut to non-contributory pensions

The staff are split into two groups of 12 who work away from their families on a ‘three weeks on, three weeks off’ basis, the Sun reported.

Royal staff, including chefs, cleaners and officials, spend two weeks at home and a third week in quarantine during their time away from Windsor, it was said.

Under strict measures to protect the monarch, each employee is then tested for Covid-19 and has their temperature taken before they can begin another three-week rotation.

It was previously announced that the Queen will return to work at Buckingham Palace in October in the hope of resuming ‘selected audiences and engagements in London’ for the first time since March.

The monarch and Prince Philip typically remain at Balmoral, in Aberdeenshire, until next month but are now set to depart earlier, Buckingham Palace announced last week. 

The Queen will then return to Windsor in October, from where she will travel to Buckingham Palace for working visits.

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