Royal Service

Book title: Royal Service

Author:  Stephen P. Barry

Publisher: Macmillan Publishing

Publication year: 1983


Getting to understand how the English monarchical political systems works can hardly be well understood to one’s preferred taste until some mystique about English royalty or other royal services are unravelled. This is a memoir of Stephen P. Barry, valet to Prince Charles after his twelve years of sojourning in the British Royal service.

On the opening pages of this book, Stephen eulogises the pleasure he finds in being a prince’s valet. Becoming a prince’s valet was particularly sought- after job… (pg 12). He further highlighted his pleasure in being considered for a royal appointment, a job he thought has got security. He seems more attached to the prestige of being seen as a royal emissary more than the mouth watery offers the job sets to give to him. Well, here I think the part of every man wants a majestic attachment, making everyone wanting to feel important. The author further establishes this fact when he went ahead to learn more about the basics of the job which in turn paid (see pg 34, 36, 41, 42).

There I was in the back of his brand new Aston Martin… (Pg 15)

Studying the personality of Prince Charles and on account of this story, one can deduce that he is down to earth a humble man, a man of good breed. This can hardly be understood when one is not close to royalty. I wouldn’t have expected a prince to give his valet a ride while he sits at the owner’s corner at the back seat, but life at least has taught us that successful men do not necessarily need to announce themselves, their humility will. It has often been said that being discreet and always wanting to command respect is what is obtainable in royalty, so this in a way upset my curiosity. Prompting me to know more.

Shirts are made to measure by Turnbull and Asser and again he chooses the fabric and styles in the comfort of the palace… After reading this part of the book I’d thought maybe someday I will also become Prince Charles in Buckingham [lol…in my wildest imagination] you know it is such a great privilege for him to have been serviced with a special home service embellished with all respect needed for royalty. It brings about that prestige attached to royals even though it is obvious that the cost of home or palace service makes any item bought by the royals double expensive.

In getting to meet the royals at least on paper, Stephen Barry unleashes their country lifestyle and their pattern of doing things.  Here he explains in successive order, how the royal family seems to have specially selected time, members of the family do things. And sincerely I seem to be thrilled by this organised lifestyle of theirs. The author writes as an authority to reckon with where the Royal family’s lives and most especially the Prince’s welfare is concerned. At least he’d lived the better part of his life knowing the makeup of the royal family. One must have thought being a member of the royal family warrants spending exorbitantly, enjoying the best life has got to offer, but the author did states of how purchases are regulated by the prince. This, of course, goes hand in hand with an instruction on the things needed to be bought and how much is budgeted for each item to be purchased. [Penultimate paragraph pg 71, 75].

After an attempted murder of the queen, and on the event of the successful assassination of Lord Mountbatten and lady Brabourne I would astutely summate that the royals weren’t also secured from external tension after all [pg 92]. Securing the royal residence wasn’t just an idea conceived out of the blues to give the royals a good taste of royalty but several cases of insecurity wouldn’t just let go the pessimistic attitude abiding within their security officials.

Working with the British monarch indeed was a great education and exposure for Stephen Barry who initially wouldn’t know how to break the news of his final goodbye to the prince and princess of Wales. He had been part of the prince’s life and he (The Prince of Wales) as well can hardly do a day without having his most preferred Valet in his daily picture. Stephen P. Barry knew his time was up in the Royal service and especially his service to the Prince of Wales and courtesy demands that one leave the stage when the ovation is high and so bidding the family a final bye was befitting after his twelve years as valet to the Prince of Wales.

This is the first book opening my eyes into the British monarchical system and mostly into the pattern of living which the royal family imbibes. If you’ve never been to Buckingham palace at least you have this book.