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UK monarchy criticised over staff redundancy notices

A British trade union on Wednesday criticised as “callous” a decision by the monarchy to issue redundancy notices this week to some staff at King Charles III’s former official residence.

Up to 100 employees who work at Clarence House, including some there for decades, reportedly received the notifications on Monday during a prayer service in Edinburgh for the late Queen Elizabeth II.

It follows Charles’s accession to the throne last Thursday upon the death of his mother, which in turn meant he relinquished the prince of Wales title and duchy of Cornwall estate he had held.

Those operations, formally run from the Clarence House residence, will now cease, his office confirmed, after The Guardian newspaper first reported the development on Tuesday.

“The decision of Clarence House to announce redundancies during a period of mourning is nothing short of heartless,” Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), said in a statement.

“While some changes across the households were to be expected, as roles across the royal family change, the scale and speed at which this has been announced is callous in the extreme.”

He added the PCS remained “committed to supporting those colleagues across the wider royal family’s estates whose futures are thrown into turmoil by this announcement, at this already difficult time”.  

However, The Guardian noted Clarence House staff are not currently believed to have a recognised union available to them.

The move to wind down Charles’ Clarence House operations follows similar steps with the households of Queen Elizabeth’s mother, who died in 2002, and Charles’s father Prince Philip, who passed away last year.

A spokeswoman for Clarence House said “as required by law, a consultation process” had begun following last week’s accession.

“Our staff have given long and loyal service and, while some redundancies will be unavoidable, we are working urgently to identify alternative roles for the greatest possible number of staff,” she added.

Royal sources said efforts were made to delay informing impacted staff until after Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on Monday, but legal advice sought said that it should be shared at the earliest moment.

Any employees being made redundant will be offered “enhanced” redundancy payments and none will be affected for at least three months, according to royal sources.

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