Wonder what it would be like to work closely with the Queen of England and other royal women? Just ask a Lady-in-Waiting. As some of the royal family’s most trusted employees, Ladies-in-Waiting are considered an intricate part of the monarchy.
From who bathes the Queen (page 5) to the real reason they exist (page 6) to the shocking amount of money they make (page 10), we take a close look at what it means to be a Lady-in-Waiting and some of the surprising duties they uphold, ahead.
What is a Lady-in-Waiting?
A lady-in-waiting is essentially a female personal assistant to a royal woman or high-ranking noblewoman. That said, a lady-in-waiting is not exactly a bottom of the totem pole job. Because of their high profile job, many Ladies-in-Waiting are considered noblewomen themselves (with a lower ranking than whoever they work for).
Next: What the queen really thinks about her Ladies-in-Waiting
They’re the queen’s most-trusted companions
Think of Ladies-in-Waiting as appointed friends of royal women. Although they have certain duties and responsibilities that must be met, most of them are considered companions to whoever they work for.
Next: Can you believe the queen needs this many Ladies-in-Waiting?
The queen’s Ladies-in-Waiting
With a busy schedule — and strict daily routine — the queen needs all of the help she can get, which is why she has nine Ladies-in-Waiting. That said, only certain Ladies-in-Waiting are needed on a daily-basis and others are needed for ceremonial purposes.
For example, the queen’s senior lady-in-waiting and Mistress of the Robes, Fortune Fitzroy, Duchess of Grafton is only needed for ceremonial occasions. The other eight women are in regular attendance.
Next: The Mistress of the Robes’ responsibilities.
Mistress of the Robes
A Mistress of the Robes is a lot like a personal stylist: She’s responsible for the queen’s wardrobe and jewelry — aka, Crown Jewels (no biggie!). In addition to managing the queen’s clothes, the Mistress of the Robes is in charge of the other Ladies-in-Waiting and is responsible for the other Ladies-in-Waiting’s schedule and duties.
Fun fact: A Mistress of the Robes is almost always a duchess.
Next: Who bathes the queen?
Woman of the Bedchamber
- The Woman of the Bedchamber is the queen’s right-hand woman.
The Woman of the Bedchamber has the most up-close and personal responsibilities. It is her job to help the queen dress and undress, as well as help her take a bath.
In addition to these duties, she also assists the queen in certain decision making — especially when it comes to social engagements. This of the Woman of the Bedchamber as the queen’s best friend.
Next: The duties of a lady-in-waiting
They provide council
While there are a handful of positions and tasks among Ladies-in-Waiting, council and companionship is one of their most important duties. Making friends in traditional ways is not possible for the queen and other royal women, so having a close group of trusted women is vital.
Next: A more traditional job responsibility.
They take care of the queen’s correspondence
Like personal assistance, the Ladies-in-Waiting are responsible for the queen’s correspondence. For example: Each morning, the queen answers a few pieces of fan mail before passing off the rest of the task to one of her Ladies-in-Waiting.
Next: The queen couldn’t do a majority of her job without their help.
They are in charge of the queen’s calendar
One of the queen’s biggest responsibilities is to attend royal engagements and events. How does she manage it all? One of her Ladies-in-Waiting does it for her. One of the main job responsibilities of a Lady-in-Waiting is to manage the queen’s calendar.
Next: Work life balance
- Queen Elizabeth II’s Ladies-in-Waiting work for part-time for two weeks straight, then take four weeks off.
For most Ladies-in-Waiting, the job is flexible and part-time. They often work on rotations (or, in shifts) and some of them are only needed for important ceremonies.
Next: How much Ladies-in-Waiting make will shock you.
How much does the queen pay her so-called companions? A total of $0. That’s right, Ladies-in-Waiting are unpaid. That said, they are sometimes provided with room and board in the royal residence in London and often receive an allowance for certain things like clothing and travel.
Next: How they afford to live.
Ladies-in-Waiting are usually wealthy by way of family or marriage — which is how they can afford to work for the queen free of charge.
Next: Friends for life
They never retire
Friends are forever and so are the queen’s Ladies-in-Waiting. A Lady-in-Waiting is expected to serve the queen for life and never retire.
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