UK monarchy criticized over layoff notices

A British trade union on Wednesday criticized the monarchy’s decision to issue lay-off notices this week to some employees at the former official residence of King Charles III as “cruel”.

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 comes after Charles took the throne last Thursday following the death of his mother, which in turn means he has relinquished the title of Prince of Wales and the royal duchy of Cornwall he had.

His office confirmed that these operations, which are officially managed from the Clarence House residence, will now cease, after the Guardian newspaper first reported on the development on Tuesday.

“Clarence House’s decision to announce layoffs during a period of mourning is nothing short of cruel,” Mark Sirotka, PCS general secretary, said in a statement.

“While some changes were to be expected across families, with roles shifting across the royal family, the scope and speed with which this was announced is very harsh.”

Read also: Can Charles generate enough respect to keep the Commonwealth together?

He added that PCS remains “committed to supporting those colleagues across the wider royal family whose futures are being jeopardized by this announcement, at this already difficult time.”

However, the Guardian noted that Clarence House employees are not currently believed to have a recognized union available to them.

The move to end Charles’s operations at Clarence House follows similar moves with the families of Queen Elizabeth’s mother, who died in 2002, and Charles’ father, Prince Philip, who passed away last year.

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

“Our employees have provided a long and loyal service, and while layoffs are inevitable, we are working urgently to identify alternative roles for as many employees as possible,” she added.

Royal sources said efforts had been made to delay informing affected staff until after Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on Monday, but the request for legal advice said it should be shared as soon as possible.

Any employee laid off will be offered “booster” excess payments and none of them will be affected for at least three months, according to royal sources.

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