In Her Majesty's Service
Although I'm not looking for a full-time job, and although I am never qualified for the positions they advertise, I do enjoy reading the want-ads in the "Executive Focus" section of The Economist. The jobs advertised are an interesting brew of professorships, foundation execs, consultants, program managers for the World Bank and IMF, etc.
The ads are black and white, and give a lot of detail, which really appeals to me. I always like ads where there's a lot of information to read, and in The Economist want-ads, there's a lot to learn.
Unless I'd read the ad for President and CEO of The Albert P. Sloan Foundation, I never would have known that Alfred P's middle name was Pritchard. And unless I'd seen the write-up for the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, I never would have heard about limphatic filariasis.
But the recent ad that really caught my eye is for The Royal Household - yes, that royal household - which is looking for an Assistant Private Secretary to the Queen, Buckingham Palace.
The Private Secretary's Office "acts as the primary source of advice to The Queen on all policy matters and is responsible for managing the official programme." (I guess that anyone qualified for this position will already know just what the 'official programme' is.)
There's a tick list of specific duties for the Assistant PS.
For one, he/she plans and organises The Queen's official programme, which I guess means figuring out which ribbon cutting ceremonies, inaugurations, coronations, 500th anniversaries of church belfries, and corgi shows The Queen will attend, and which ones she will beg out of. I can just imagine the sheer volume of requests The Queen gets, and how many disappointed requesters there are in throughout the British Empire. I know that she has four children, and a bunch of grandchildren, to share the wealth with, but I'm sure there's still no end to occasions that could be nicely marked with a royal presence.
For a newbie in this position, I'd hope that there'd be plenty of guidance on what type of events The Queen prefers. You'd hate to have your first week in office go south when The Queen spots yet another ship christening on the agenda, and yells out the regal equivalent of "who the bloody bollocks scheduled this one?"
I know that her Mum lived to great old age, and The Queen herself certainly looks pretty darn good for her 80 years, but there is the risk that you'd overschedule her. She may just want to slow down and spend the day organizing her cashmere sweater set drawer.
The next task is "keeping The Queen informed of developments and dealing with constitutional issues in the UK and the Commonwealth countries." Well, this one seems a whole lot meatier than the official programme. In fact, it sounds like something that the Personal Secretary should do himself, doesn't it, rather than fob it off on his underling? How do you figure out what The Queen needs to know and when does she need to know it? Obviously, she needs to see information like the recent stunner that police in Northern Ireland protected their Unionist informers - even when they knew that they were guilty of murder. But where do you draw the line? I mean, there's a lot going on out there, and the Assistant Personal Secretary will have to figure out pretty quick what the line is between "why didn't I know about this" and "why bother me."
The list goes on: working with Government departments and with devolved administrations; dealing with management and organisational issues within the Household; liaison with other Royal Households to provide guidance on policy.
Again, I have to ask, if this is what the Assistant Personal Secretary, just what is the Full Monty responsible for?
No surprise that they're seeking "an outstanding candidate...with excellent judgement, administrative and organizational skills, conceptual thinking and strategic planning ability...good communication skills...and the ability to absorb and disseminate a large volume of information...a team player with good interpersonal skills." They don't state that discretion and the ability to keep not just a stiff upper lip, but a set of stiffly zipped lips, is also essential. But that's obviously implied.
Actually, if it weren't for the requirement of a "well developed knowledge of the UK, the constitution, and the British media", this is one of the few Economist positions that I almost qualify for.
It doesn't say what the pay is, but there is an e-mail and snail-mail address if you want to apply.
The Queen is sure a trooper, and Prince William's a cutie pie and all that, but I'm not all that big on The Royals. Still, this position certainly sounds challenging and interesting. I'm guessing it's not exactly 9 to 5, and it's definitely not for the faint of heart, but I've never held those sorts of jobs before. Why start now? Maybe I'll brush up on my British constitution and knowledge about devolved administrations and apply. If nothing else, it would be fun to see what the rejection letter looks like. I'm guessing a heavy cream, embossed notecard with a formal, polite, nicely printed 'we'll keep you c.v. on file' note.
What really surprises me is that this is the type of position that they'd have to advertise for. Wouldn't they already have people in their inner circle who already know the players and the ropes, and who were more of less bred for Her Majesty's Service?
But to see the job posted...It doesn't say so in the ad, but could it be that The Royal Household is an Equal Opportunity Employer?
The non-royal we will be interested to see who lands this plum.