Butler Royal - Peter RussellHutchinson, 1982, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Good+ — in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Dust wrapper tanned at the margins of the flaps. Spotting and tanning to the blanks. Leans slightly. Text complete, clean and tight but a little age-tanned.
Illustrated with black and white photographs. From the cover: “Life below stairs at Kensington Palace, at Coppins and at St. James’s Palace, service with Princess Marina, the Dukes of Kent and Gloucester amongst others, and years of being the silent presence upstairs in the drawing-room taught Peter Russell much about life.
Butler Royal is his account of fifteen years in royal and otherwise distinguished households, told with perception, affection, honesty and unflagging humour. Beginning as under butler to Princess Marina, Peter Russell went on to be butler to Lord and Lady Remnant, then to the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester before returning to Coppins as butler to the young Duke of Kent whom, when working for Marina, he had known as a cheerful young prince.
The butler’s duties, ranging from preparation of clothes, testing of bath water, the squeezing of the royal toothpaste and the opening of the front door to King Olaf of Norway (who’d called to watch Popeye on television with the Duke of Gloucester), to downstairs affairs like engaging staff, overseeing cellar stocks, balancing housekeeping money (sometimes surprisingly difficult), and dealing with every sort of domestic crisis are described with extraordinary anecdotal detail.
Forthright about his employers at times, but usually warmly admiring of them and their work, Peter Russell met heads of state, and celebrities like Noel Coward, Sir Malcolm Sargent and Cecil Beaton during his career. He was part servant, part companion and confidant, part objective observer of some interesting royal eccentricities and partly the irrepressible Londoner who always retained a sense of self and of humour.
This is a fascinating insight into protocol, privilege, dignity, eccentricity and hard work — both above and below stairs, during a period of upheaval in traditional social values. Beginning his career, possibly, when the status of domestic servants was already changing and when class distinctions were breaking down, Peter Russell’s work bridged the deepest traditions and a modern world where his work became almost an anachronism.”