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Queen Camilla is making changes at Sandringham & staffers hate it

For the past five months, it’s actually been pretty quiet for Windsor-staff gossip. There was a changing of the guard at the very top with QEII’s death, but I expected more stories about “unsettled office staff” and warring factions within King Charles’s court. Now, I believe there are warring factions and we get glimpses of that war, but overall, the behind-the-scenes drama hasn’t spilled out to the public sphere. Yet. I was pleasantly surprised as I read this Mail story about how Sarah Ferguson is “back in the royal fold” thanks to Queen Camilla – buried at the end of the story, there are “below stairs” sources complaining about what it’s like under King Charles. Things have changed and it’s the most low-stakes gossip ever, but I loved it. Some highlights:

Fergie is back in, thanks to Camilla: A source said: ‘Camilla likes Sarah. They’re both gentry. They share a love of horses and Fergie will be smart enough to play the game with Camilla and realise she is the power behind the King. That she must be nice to them and support them.’

Fergie was welcomed at Sandringham this year: For years, her ex-husband Prince Andrew would take their daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, to the celebrations, leaving Sarah out in the cold. This year, however, the Duchess was a guest not only for Christmas lunch, but also the following day’s shoot. It’s notable that the Boxing Day event was traditionally organised by Prince Philip, who would have blanched at the idea of inviting the Duchess.

The Yorks actually stayed at Wood Farm: The Mail on Sunday understands that both the Duke and Duchess of York – divorced but still living together – were not only invited to all the Christmas celebrations, they were even given the use of Philip’s former home, Wood Farm, during their stay. The cottage on the Sandringham Estate was where Philip spent his retirement, pottering about after fitting it out with a new kitchen and updating the heating.

Marmite Fergie: ‘There was Fergie, in the thick of it, chatting away to the King and Queen Consort on the Boxing Day shoot,’ the source said. ‘Philip would never have allowed that. There’s a feeling that, no matter what Sarah’s personal faults – and she can be like Marmite in that respect – she has been a good mother to the girls and loyal to Andrew.’

Camilla’s takeover at Sandringham: The thawing of relations with the 63-year-old Duchess, aides say, is indicative of a seismic shift in the family, led by the new Queen Consort. Camilla has taken over the Queen’s old rooms at Sandringham and both she and the King would prefer it to be run as a relaxed family home. A Royal insider said: ‘They want guests to have a homely experience, similar to Dumfries House [the Ayrshire mansion Charles saved].’

Camilla wants Sandringham to feel less like a hotel: ‘Camilla respects Sir Tony [Johnstone-Burt, head of the Royal Household] but perhaps sees things differently from him. The Queen Consort doesn’t want the homes and palaces run like the sort of corporate hotel you might find at a motorway service station. Camilla doesn’t want the towels put on the bed, but laid out on the rails in the bathrooms. She wants nice soap, not the same little individually wrapped soaps you get in a hotel.’

Discontented staff: Not all of the changes have been welcomed by Sandringham staff, many of whom served for decades under the previous regime. In the ‘Big House’, a housekeeper is leaving their post, the Mail on Sunday understands. And some say that the annual shoot was far better when Philip ran it. One source grumbled: ‘Today, the bird numbers are much lower because they’ve been overshot.’

Charles chats with staff: Previously staff had a habit of using the back stairs and made themselves scarce if they saw an approaching ‘MRF’ – Member of the Royal Family. ‘But Charles walks the corridors and wants to know where people are dashing off to,’ a source said. ‘He wants to stop and talk to them. They don’t understand it.’

LOL, staffers are mad at the heavier workload: If some are grumbling it was perhaps because the previous workload – with a retired Prince Philip and a nonagenarian Queen – was much lighter. Of the changing demands, one insider added diplomatically: ‘Old habits are hard to break. Let’s just say the teams at Buckingham Palace and Sandringham are quite busy these days.’

[From The Mail on Sunday]

These people, all of them, are so hysterically terrible. Camilla: what if we put the clean towels in the bathroom? Sandrinham Staff: HOW DARE YOU! And yes, the staffers are very mad that they have more work to do now, although Charles and Camilla did leave Sandringham for Scotland right after Christmas, whereas QEII would always stay at Sandringham through mid-February. And not to defend Camilla, but of course she wants things to run differently, that’s literally her prerogative.

As for the Fergie stuff… I’m not surprised that Fergie is back in the fold, but I am surprised that Camilla is making it into a class thing? I’m shocked that the Yorks were given Wood Farm to use over the holidays too. That was Philip and Elizabeth’s favorite place.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid, Cover Images.

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