Demand for British butlers DOUBLES in one year from world's wealthiest families 'influenced by Downton Abbey'
12:12 GMT, 28 November 2012
Who hasn't sat down to watch Downton Abbey of an evening and wished they had their very own Mr Carson to take care of things
But for some, it's more than an idle wish. In the last two years, demand for British butlers has more than doubled, as wealthy families seek to model their lives on the period drama.
Specialist domestic service recruitment firms say they have seen a huge spike in requests for staff across the world.
It seems British-trained traditional butlers are in high demand with new billionaires determined to live like the 'old money' families of the early twentieth century.
Loyal: Rich families across the world are increasingly looking to employ butlers like Downton Abbey's Mr Carson, in order to add a bit of old-fashioned British elegance to their domestic staff
Bespoke Bureau, a London training agency, claims it has found jobs for 430 butlers this year – double the number it placed last year, and four times the figure it had work for in 2010.
Company director Sara Vestin Rahamani said: 'We are experiencing a massive increase in the number of wealthy families wanting butlers.
'There is a significant trend for the super-rich to want a piece of the kind of lifestyle they see in movies and on programmes like Downton Abbey.
'We have never experienced demand like we have seen this year.'
Miss Vestin Rahmani said the call for domestic staff was the loudest among a new breed of wealthy families in developing countries like China.
She said: 'We have been inundated with requests from high net worth individuals in China, Russia and the Middle East who want a classically-trained British butler who subscribes to the traditional way of doing things.
'We train people up to understand how to give their employers exactly what they want.'
Other British butler schools are also
experiencing a boom in business. There are well over 2 million butlers
and valets working worldwide, but even this number is nowhere near
Seddon-Holland, head of the Guild of British Butlers, said his courses
were fully booked until next year:
'We are very selective in the people
we recruit and place, but we have certainly seen a significant increase
in requests for new butlers.
'At the moment I’m in the position where I can’t meet demand.'
And this breed of butler is certainly more Downton's serious Mr Carson than The Fresh Prince of Bel Air's joker Geoffrey.
They are discreet, devoted and often incredibly well-paid, the most superior among them capable of commanding salaries of up to 150,000.
Upper class valeting: Bespoke Bureau head butler trainer Steve Ford teaches the skills needed for top level domestic work
But if you want to make money in the profession, you'd be much better off working for a nouveau-riche overseas billionaire than our own Royal family, who pay some of their butlers in the region of 24,000 a year.
However, Bespoke Bureau’s head trainer, Steve Ford, insists that being a butler is no way to an easy buck. He considers it a calling for a certain type of person.
The 46-year-old from Swansea served as a personal servant for nine years to officers in the RAF and for a string of private households around Britain.
Mr Ford said: 'We are very selective with who we choose to come onto our courses, because being a butler is not for everybody.
'Butlers need to learn how to organise their employer’s life and how to keep a discreet presence in their home.
The Granthams with their retinue: There are over 2 million butlers in service worldwide but the number is not nearly enough to meet current demand
'It is absolutely not a nine to five job. A good butler will understand their employer completely and be able to anticipate their every need.'
He says the quintessentially 'British' image of a butler is a vital part of the attraction to the high-earning individuals buying into this trend.
He added: 'No matter where they are in the world, it is common for clients to want a British butler, or at least someone who has been trained in Britain.'
Ms Vestin Rahmani added that families
who tend to employers staff often have several properties that they
move between – and the staff may be expected to travel with them, be it
to a London home, a villa in Monaco, a New York apartment, a ski chalet
or a yacht.
'It can be a very demanding job, but
the right person will manage to keep a smile on their face and to
maintain an air of old fashioned British dignity.'
Aspiring butlers can learn the trade through a variety of courses run by agencies like the Bespoke Bureau and the Guild of British Butlers, though the training itself can often be costly – running to several thousand pounds to become fully qualified.
The crisis has been caused by an explosion in the number of
super-rich individuals prepared to pay handsomely to be waited on
hand and foot.
There are two million butlers working, but even that many isn't
enough, according to Charles MacPherson of the Guild of
“If we doubled the number of butlers, they wouldn't be without
work,” he said. “The new billionaires now want to live like
billionaires and the demand has overwhelmed us.”
Experts said many of the new rich have made their money so
quickly they haven't had time to acquire social graces or learn to
run homes the size of small hotels or manage armies of domestic
staff. One example involved a wealthy English peer left
“butler-less” in a vast Manhattan apartment. When the new butler
arrived the peer showed him a super-modern kitchen capable of
feeding 50 to 60.
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