Here are 5 Surprising Jobs You Can Get With the U.K. Royal Family

The Queen's Swan Marker David Barber holds a cygnet before releasing it back into the River Thames, after it was counted and checked during the annual "Swan Upping" census in July 2014.
Matt Dunham—AP The Queen's Swan Marker David Barber holds a cygnet before releasing it back into the River Thames, after it was counted and checked during the annual "Swan Upping" census in July 2014.

Amid the housekeepers, drivers and security forces, the royal household employs people in more peculiar positions

One of the biggest questions on people’s minds as the Duchess of Cambridge left London’s St. Mary’s Hospital on Saturday with Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, was just how Kate could manage to leave her doctors’ care less than ten hours after giving birth. (And looking stunning while doing it, no less.)

The answer partly lies in the fact that the royal household has a large and trusted staff including an appointed Surgeon-Gynecologist to the Royal Family, Dr Alan Farthing, who has held the position since 2008. In addition to his royal role, Farthing also has a private practice on London’s Harley Street and works at London’s Queen Charlotte’s Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital.

While it may strike some as surprising that the royal household has its very own Surgeon-Gynecologist with a formal title, it’s actually one of the more logical positions that are currently held. Though historical jobs with the royal family tend to sound even more bizarre —formal titles included Chocolate Maker to the Queen and Keeper of the Lions in the Tower — there are still some peculiar positions within the current royal household.

Here are some of the more unusual royal job titles and posts that are currently held:

Warden of the Swans — Together with the Marker of the Swans — another formal position — the Warden will “conduct the annual census of swans on the Thames,” reports the Guardian, a process called swan upping. The Queen owns all of the unmarked mute swans in the U.K., yet she only chooses to exercise her ownership rights on certain stretches of the Thames. The current Warden, biologist Christopher Perrins, an emeritus fellow at Oxford University, has held the position since 1993. Prior to that, the Warden of the Swans and the Marker of the Swans was one position, known as the Keeper of the Queen’s Swans.

Master of the Queen’s Music — A position with no set responsibilities, the Master of the Queen’s Music is thought to be a position of honor given to a prominent musician for a period of ten years. The current Master is composer Judith Weir, who was appointed in 2014. Though the position does not formally require it, Masters of the Queen’s Music are able to compose music for royal or state occasions if they wish. Weir introduced a special arrangement of the U.K. national anthem, “God Save the Queen,” during King Richard III’s reinternment in March, 2015.

Astronomer Royal — Now largely an honorary title, the senior Astronomer Royal — presently Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, who has held the position since 1995 — is expected to “be available for consultation on scientific matters for as long as the holder remains a professional astronomer,” according to the British Monarchy’s official website.

Master of the Horse — Another honorary position, the Master of the Horse is required to attend all prominent ceremonial occasions where the Queen might be riding on horseback or in a horse-drawn carriage. The current Master of the Horse, Lord Samuel Vestey, 74, is also responsible for “periodic inspections of the Royal Mews (stables).”

The Queen’s Piper — A position since the Victorian era, the piper is tasked with playing every weekday at 9:00 a.m. for around 15 minutes under the Queen’s window when she is not traveling and in residence at either Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse or Balmoral Castle. According to the Monarchy’s website, in recent decades the “post has been awarded to a serving soldier and experienced army Pipe Major on [temporary transfer], who retains his army status and pay although becoming a member of the Royal Household at Buckingham Palace.” The current piper is David Rodgers of the Irish Guards.

TIME Style

See Beyonce Prove She’s the Queen of Sheer at the 2015 Met Gala

Other celebrities may try, but no one does the red carpet like Beyonce

Beyonce proved once again that she knows how to both make an entrance and capture the headlines.

While her appearance at last year’s Costume Institute Gala at the Met was dominated by Elevator-gate , the superstar has this year ensured that everyone is talking about her on her own terms. Showing up late to the annual event, Beyonce walked the red carpet in a shockingly sheer Givenchy gown that all but guaranteed every eye would be on her.

Read next: Solange Knowles Dazzles in Unique Giles Dress at Met Gala 2015

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME viral

Watch This Giant Star Wars LEGO Super Star Destroyer Crumble in Slow Motion

Witness all the destruction in slow motion

Ever wondered what a Super Star Destroyer looks like as it shatters in slow-motion? Wonder no more. The team at Wired spent 16 hours and $800 building a Super Star Destroyer out of LEGO only to drop it and film it shattering into little pieces. The resulting video—shot at 1,000 frames per second—allows you to experience the destruction in all its brutal detail.

Check out the video above.

MORE Why I’m Giving Into My Feelings This Star Wars Day



TIME U.K. elections

This New Yorker is Already Mayor of London But is he the Future Leader of the U.K?

Mayor of London Boris Johnson speaks at Lynch Plant Hire Depot in North West London
Lauren Hurley—AP Mayor of London Boris Johnson speaks at Lynch Plant Hire Depot in North West London, on April 24, 2015.

Voters love the eccentric Boris Johnson but he may be just a bit too "happy-go-lucky" to be Prime Minister

On a quiet street in Hampstead, an affluent north London neighborhood, Mayor Boris Johnson stops near roadworks to have his photo taken with the local right-of-centre Conservative parliamentary candidate. The pair are on a campaign trail walkabout just ahead of the United Kingdom’s general election on May 7 and as passersby look on, many snap their own photos on smart phones, excited to catch a glimpse of Johnson’s famous shock of disheveled blond hair in the flesh.

Suddenly, the quiet is broken as a middle-aged man in jogging shorts races by, shouting, “Buller! Buller! Buller!” The chant is a well-known greeting between members, past and present, of the notorious Bullingdon Club, an exclusive drinking club at Oxford University, known for its members’ antics, such as trashing bars and restaurants while wearing tuxes. (The film The Riot Club is based on the club.) Johnson, now 50, was once a member along with David Cameron, the Prime Minister (see this club photograph of the pair).

Seemingly flummoxed, Johnson starts moving down the road, flanked by journalists. Though Johnson’s privileged background is well documented — although born on the Upper East Side in New York, he attended Eton, the exclusive English secondary school and studied at Oxford — it doesn’t tend to jive with his Everyman popularity. The people shaking his hand in Hampstead have variously described him as “a character,” “brilliant” and “a laugh.” It’s that largely populist appeal has seen Johnson win not one, but two London mayoral elections — despite the city’s large number of left-of-centre Labour Party supporters.

As Johnson continues, he’s asked if he recognizes the running man from his time at the club. Johnson deflects with his usual humor: “No! I think he was actually saying, ‘Bollard, bollard, bollard.’” He gestures to the bollards by the roadworks he’s quickly leaving behind and charges over to two men standing on a sidewalk nearby, to shake hands and take photos.

It’s a minor snag in a campaign that has otherwise been, in neighborhoods across London, the Boris Show, complete with backslaps, selfies and plenty of jokes (mostly at the expense of Labour leader Ed Miliband). There is an occasional person who chastises him for this or that policy, but the Mayor seems to brush it off easily enough. Besides, even more people tell him they “love” him. Though Johnson is running for his own parliamentary seat in a safe Conservative constituency in West London, he’s also been using his considerable celebrity to help boost Conservative candidates running for marginal seats.


He’s not only put in appearances in Uxbridge and South Ruislip and Hampstead, but also Finchley, Golders Green, and South Thanet, Kent, in recent weeks. With the general election looming on Thursday — and the Conservatives still neck and neck with the opposition Labour party in the polls — Johnson’s extensive campaign circuit could be just the jolt of life his party needs.

He’ll likely be rewarded for his hard work. There have long been whispers that Johnson had his eye on leading the Conservative Party — and, one day, the country — but now those whispers have morphed into an open conversation, supported by the fact that he’s returning to Westminster (he served as an opposition MP from 2001 to 2008). Nadine Dorries, a Conservative MP, told the Guardian newspaper in April, “We need him to electrify the campaign. We need people to know if they vote Conservative, Boris is the future leader.”

When asked directly about becoming leader of his party, Johnson tends to brush off the suggestion with a joke. But while he is quick to both prop up the Conservatives fighting for seats across London and criticize the leaders of rival parties, Johnson doesn’t often mention Cameron, the Prime Minister and current Conservative leader. For his part, Cameron has publicly portrayed Johnson not a rival or threat to his job, but as one of his party’s “star players.”

Yet while mayor of London is one of the U.K.’s most prominent political positions, there are some who doubt whether Johnson’s antics (such as getting stuck on a zip wire in 2012) — which endear him to the public now — would go down as well if he were, say, the head of government. A YouGov poll conducted last year found that while 49 percent of respondents found Johnson “charismatic,” only 20 percent considered him “honest” and a mere 17 percent believed he was “in touch with the concerns of ordinary people.” Even more telling: 58 percent agreed that “he was not serious enough to be trusted with big national decisions.”

In Hampstead, a well-dressed elderly woman, who declines to give her name, gazes on at Johnson as he chats with people at a coffee shop and says that while she very much likes him as Mayor, she can’t imagine him as a party leader. “He’s a bit too happy-go-lucky,” she concludes.

Others have criticized Johnson for thinking he could juggle the duties required of an MP on top of his position as Mayor, as he plans to see out his term, which ends in 2016 and his work as a weekly columnist for the British right-of-center paper The Daily Telegraph. When Johnson failed to turn up to the third and final public meeting for his constituency, a week and a half before the election, Labour candidate Chris Summers told the audience that if the Mayor won, he’d be a “part-time MP” who “isn’t even familiar with the local issues.” Yet it’s likely that Johnson doesn’t need to put in large amounts of face-time in the constituency, as the area has elected a Tory candidate since the 1970s.

For his part, Johnson seems confident he can do it all: champion other Tories, win a seat at Westminister and continue to serve as London’s largely lovable Mayor. In Hampstead, when a woman asks him what he’s doing in the neighborhood, Johnson replies easily, “I’m everywhere.”

TIME U.K. elections

This Woman Is Forecast to be the Biggest Winner of the U.K. Election

First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon campaigns in South Queensferry on the outskirts of Edinburgh on April 28, 2015.
Andy Buchanan—AFP/Getty Images First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon campaigns in South Queensferry on the outskirts of Edinburgh on April 28, 2015.

Nicola Sturgeon and her Scottish National Party are predicted to wipe out all opposition in Scotland and become the United Kingdom's third biggest party

“Oh my god, it’s Nicola Sturgeon,” a twenty-something woman in a wool beanie cries, sounding genuinely star struck, as she spots the rising star of U.K. politics in the middle of a scrum of journalists, photographers and selfie seekers. The Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and Scottish First Minister is on the campaign trail, visiting a street in South Queensferry, a town on the western outskirts of Edinburgh, and stopped at a promenade with the spectacular Forth bridges in the distance. With just days to go before the U.K.’s general election on May 7, “Sturgeon-mania” — as the British press has branded the politician’s sudden spike in popularity — is in full swing.

Dressed smartly in a red suit and heels, Sturgeon stops to embrace voters, hold babies and snap selfies with the people crowding along the cobblestone street to meet her. Builders call out to her from nearby scaffolding and those working in the cafes and hair salons across the road line up along the street, craning their necks to catch a glimpse of her. Though she took the reins of her party less than eight months ago, Sturgeon has clearly achieved celebrity status in her home country.

“She’s more of a statesman than anyone else we’ve got,” says Sandy Thomson, a retired builder who lives down the road and came up to meet Sturgeon. He’s planning on voting SNP on May 7, after years of voting for either the Labour or Liberal Democrat parties. It’s a story repeated over and over by people in the crowd.

Sturgeon’s popularity is perhaps surprising, considering her party suffered a blow at the Scottish independence referendum last September when 55 percent of Scots voted to remain a part of the U.K. The outcome was heartbreaking for nearly half the country and saw the then-party leader and Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, resign, allowing his long-standing deputy, Sturgeon, to take command.

Since then, SNP membership has quadrupled to more than 100,000, making it the third largest party in the U.K. in terms of members. Nicola McEwen, professor of politics at the University of Edinburgh, says that the campaign for independence prior to the referendum “generated a nationalistic movement that didn’t exist before.” Sturgeon has smartly capitalized on that movement. Says McEwen, “there’s no doubt that her leadership of the party has strengthened its appeal.”

Polls suggest that the SNP — which won a paltry six of Scotland’s 59 seats in Westminster in 2010 — is on track to take as many as 50 come May 7. (Though, notably, Sturgeon won’t be one of the victors, as she’s not actually running for a seat at Westminster herself.)

Historically, Scotland has been Labour heartland. But the party — one of two major parties in the country, along with the Conservatives — has been struggling to keep Scottish voters for years. The SNP, with its pledges to stop the austerity measures put in place by the Conservative and Lib-Dem coalition government, now offers Scots a persuasive alternative. Though the SNP has released an election manifesto with strong similarities to Labour’s platform — both pledge to introduce a 50 percent income tax rate for top earners and a tax on high-value homes — Scots don’t seem to care. As Calley Morrison, a 24-year-old who works in a gift boutique in South Queensferry, puts it, “We have more faith in Nicola to push it through.”

READ NEXT: This New Yorker is Already Mayor of London But is he the Future Leader of the U.K.


If the SNP does manage to take the lion’s share of Scottish seats, it would very likely make the nationalist party the third largest in the U.K.’s parliament. With polls suggesting the likelihood of a hung parliament between the Conservative and Labour parties, that would put the SNP in the powerful position of influencing which party could actually form government — and who could be the U.K.’s next prime minister.

As the staunchly left-wing Sturgeon has pledged that SNP MPs would prevent a minority Conservative government from “even getting off the ground,” her potential kingmaker status has rattled Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron. The Tories have pushed the campaign message that if Labour’s Ed Miliband were to be the country’s next leader due to support from the SNP, he would be under the influence of a party that aims to break up the U.K. Campaign posters depicting a miniature Miliband sitting in the breast pocket of Sturgeon’s suit were released to drive that idea home.

Miliband has publicly rejected any sort of agreement with SNP — though Sturgeon has said that Labour is likely to backtrack on May 8 and welcome SNP support if they fail to win a majority of seats. When asked at South Queensferry what her response to an apologetic phone call from Miliband after the election would be, she says amiably, “I don’t do smug.”

But such emphatic dismissals of the SNP haven’t endeared either of the major parties to Scots. Michelle Shepherd, 31, owns the Jitter Bean Café & Barista in South Queensferry with her mother, and is disgusted by the Conservative’s English-centric rhetoric. “I think they’re hypocritical,” she says. Before the referendum “they were saying how much they love [Scotland] and now they’re rejecting our representatives?”

The prospect of the SNP influencing Westminster might not even bother many voters in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. A Guardian/ICM poll found that only five percent of respondents had “fears of a smaller party holding the next government to ransom.” Rather, voters all over the U.K. seem to admire Sturgeon: during the televised leaders’ debates on April 2 — which saw Sturgeon capably take on not only Cameron and Miliband, but also three other party leaders — the sixth most Googled question, reported the Guardian, was “Can I vote for the SNP?”

As for the question of another referendum — which was previously spun as a “once-in-a-generation” event — Sturgeon has revealed little. She told BBC’s Newsnight on April 27, “Even if we won every seat in Scotland that would not be a mandate for another referendum.” While many of her opponents seem suspicious, McEwen says that, strategically, it wouldn’t be prudent of Sturgeon and the SNP to push for another referendum unless they were certain of a victory. “You can lose one referendum and gain from it, as they clearly have done,” she says. “Two? That’s a different matter.”

Even the residents of South Queensferry who voted for independence say they’re not especially keen to revisit the issue with another referendum. As one woman puts it, “it’s been done, we’ve made our peace.” Many say they’re just inspired by what Sturgeon has shown she can do for Scotland, by putting the country front and center in U.K. politics. As Calley Morrison, standing at the counter of the gift shop, says, “You gotta have faith in somebody.”


Kate and William Leave the Hospital With Their New Princess Hours After Delivery

The royal baby girl makes her first appearance

She’s less than 10 hours old, but the new royal baby girl has already made her first public appearance.

At 6:11 p.m. local time, the royal baby, along with her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, emerged from the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital, in west London, and was met by crowds of well-wishers, photographers and journalists.

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, who is more commonly known as Kate, left the hospital carrying her newborn daughter, wearing a yellow and white floral-patterned dress. The Duke of Cambridge, also known as Prince William, was at her side. The family posed for photographers before piling into a black Range Rover.

Prince William left the hospital on his own earlier in the day. He told reporters that he was “very happy” and was going to pick up Prince George. He then took the wheel of a Range Rover and drove to Kensington Palace. He arrived back shortly with his young son in tow and took him inside to meet his new sister. (George was later taken home while his parents stayed behind.)

Kate gave birth at 7:34 a.m. GMT (8:34 a.m. local time), according to an announcement from Kensington Palace, after being admitted to the hospital just hours earlier.

A notice announcing the birth was later placed on an easel outside Buckingham Palace. The new princess is Queen Elizabeth’s fifth great-grandchild. Prince Charles, who had earlier confessed that he was hoping for a granddaughter, along with his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, said they were “absolutely delighted” over the arrival.

The name of the baby has not yet been released. Royal babies are usually named after their ancestors and relatives, though odds at Britain’s bookmakers favor Alice and Charlotte.

Read More: How Birth Order Will Shape the New Royal Princess

The new baby will be fourth in line to the throne after Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George. William’s brother, Prince Harry, will become fifth in line and every one else in the line of succession will move one step away from the throne.

The baby will be the first to benefit from changes to the laws of succession, which remove male bias. The baby can no longer be superseded by a younger brother.

William and Kate’s first child—whose full name is Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge—was born at the same hospital on July 22, 2013, at 4:24 p.m. weighing 8 lbs 6 oz.

The news that Kate was pregnant with a second child was first announced on Sept. 8, 2014, by Kensington Palace, the residence of the Cambridges. The announcement was made before the pregnancy had reached the 12-week stage because Kate suffered from severe morning sickness, which forced her to cancel public engagements.

Read Next: Why the New Royal Baby is 4th in Line for the Throne


It’s a Girl! Princess Kate Gives Birth to a Princess

Princess Kate gave birth at 7:34 a.m. GMT and the baby weighs 8 lbs 3oz

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, has given birth to a baby girl, it was announced Saturday.

Catherine or Princess Kate gave birth at 7:34 a.m. GMT (8.34 a.m. local time) according to an announcement from Kensington Palace. The baby weighs 8lbs 3oz.

The name of the baby has not yet been released. Royal babies are usually named after their ancestors and relatives, though bookmakers’ odds are tipped in favor of Alice and Charlotte.

The birth was announced first on Twitter from Kensington Palace. The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Prince Harry and the Middletons have been informed.

Read More: How Birth Order Will Shape the New Royal Princess

The new baby will be fourth in line to the throne after Prince Charles, Prince William and older brother Prince George. Prince Harry will become fifth in line and every one else in the line of succession will move one step away from the throne.

The baby will be the first to benefit from changes to the laws of succession, which remove male bias. The baby can no longer be superseded by a younger brother.

The birth took place at the Lindo Wing of the St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, a short drive from Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace. Prince George, his father, and his uncle Prince Harry were born in the same wing.

The delivery team was led by Guy Thorpe-Beeston, Surgeon Gynaecologist to the Royal Household, and assisted by Alan Farthing, Surgeon Gynaecologist to the Queen, who was the fiance of the British television presenter Jill Dando at the time of her unsolved murder in 1999.

Their first son, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge was born at the same hospital on July 22, 2013 at 4.24 p.m. weighing 8lbs 6oz.

Kensington Palace, the residence of the Cambridges, announced Princess Kate was pregnant with her second child on Sept. 8, 2014. The news was announced before the pregnancy had reached the 12-week stage because Princess Kate suffered from severe morning sickness, which forced her to cancel public engagements including a trip to Malta.

Read Next: Why the New Royal Baby is 4th in Line for the Throne


TIME royal baby

Princess Kate In Labor With Royal Baby Number 2

July 23, 2013 - London, England, United Kingdom: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catherine introduced baby Cambridge to the press and well wishers outside the Lindo Wing before William loaded his newborn son into his car seat and drove the family to Kensington Palace. (Robin Nunn/Nunn Syndication/Polaris)
Robin Nunn—Polaris The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital London after the birth of their first child, George, in 2013

Kate and William are preparing to welcome a little brother or sister for Prince George

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are about to become parents for the second time. Catherine — also known as Kate — was driven to St. Mary’s Hospital, in west London, early Saturday morning. The BBC reports that she was admitted at 5:00 GMT in the early stages of labor.

Kensington Palace has said that the “labor is progressing as normal” for Kate.

The royal couple have claimed that they don’t know whether the baby will be a boy or girl, though bookmakers in the U.K. are tipped towards it being a girl, with odds favoring “Charlotte” and “Alice” as the new name. Prince Charles said during an official engagement earlier this week that he’s hoping for a granddaughter.

According to the rules of succession, the new baby will be fourth in line to the throne, behind Charles, William and older brother Prince George, who was born in July 2013. Prince William’s brother Harry — currently fourth in line to the throne — will be bumped to fifth in line.

TIME Design

The Minions Get Their Very Own Color From Pantone

Pantone Minion Yellow
Pantone Pantone Minion Yellow

This is color that will make a lot of people 'Happy'

For the first time in three years, the Pantone Color Institute has revealed a new color — and it has some despicable origins.

“Minion yellow,” inspired by the tiny creatures from the Despicable Me franchise and the upcoming prequel Minions, is the latest addition to the company’s color matching system, which is used by designers and artists. The company says the color came about after Pharrell Williams, who sings the song “Happy” from the Despicable Me 2 film, first came up with the idea and the Pantone team worked with animators at Illumination Entertainment to nail down the specific shade of Minion yellow.

“Color is contextual and right now there is a desire for colors that are more vibrant and uplifting,” Pantone Color Institute vice president Laurie Pressman said in a statement about the new color. “This is especially the case with the yellows, so given the worldwide popularity of the Minions, it seemed only natural to name a color after a character for the first time in our history.”

Minions hits theaters on July 10.

TIME food and drink

You Can Now Bathe in Ramen Noodles

The ramen craze just went one step further

Ramen is one of the latest food crazes to sweep America, but when it comes to the noodle dish the Japanese don’t mess around.

Yunessan Spa House in Hakone, a south-eastern town in Japan, is now offering ramen baths for its clientele. The bath, consisting of ramen pork broth and synthetic noodles, allegedly helps improve patrons’ skin.

Ichiro Furuya, the owner of the spa, claims, “Lately people are very concerned about having beautiful skin, and they know the effect of collagen, which is contained in our pork-based broth. At this bath, everybody can have fun and take advantage of the healthy elements of ramen noodles.”

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