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Princess Beatrice's former secretary reveals top tips for getting a job with the royal family

James Upsher worked as an Assistant Private Secretary to the York family for almost four years

royal family
Gemma Strong
Online Digital News Director
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Ever thought about working for the royal family? James Upsher, a former royal Assistant Private Secretary, has shared his top tips on getting hired by the likes of the Queen, or the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - and a big 'no no' is gushing about the chance to work for the royals. James, who worked for the York family for almost four years, has shared all on a new article on LinkedIn, and perhaps surprisingly advises applicants not to talk about how the job would "fulfil childhood dreams of working for the palaces".

queen prince william© Photo: Getty Images

James Upsher has shared his top tips for getting a job with the royal family

Under the headline, 'Do not – under any circumstances – go on about the royal family', he writes: "This is the golden rule. I'd bet in my pile of 500 applications for a role, around 100 will have ruled themselves out in the very first line of the application with the words 'I have always dreamed of working for the Royal Family.' I'm afraid the recruiter for that admin job doesn't share your excitement at the pending fulfillment of childhood fantasy, they have hundreds of letters to send out and want someone who will be really, really good at office admin. Of course, you should have a line mentioning your great respect for the institution, but play this one very cool to stay out of the 'no' pile."

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James has a great deal of experience working with the royals, having also been heavily involved in organising overseas tours for the Cambridges and Prince Harry, and as a result knows exactly what the royals are looking for in their future staff. One of his top tips is to stress any connections to the Commonwealth. "The Household serves all the countries where Her Majesty is Head of State and the Commonwealth, so your understanding and connection to parts of the world beyond the UK that connect with the Royal Family are hugely valuable to the organisation and you should stress these in your application," he writes. "Sorry Americans, you opted out of that one."

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Prince William and Kate Middleton with their children

He also advises demonstrating any shared values with the establishment. "If you were a Scout or a Guide, there's a Royal Patron for that. If you ran a marathon for Cancer Research UK, there's a Royal Patron for that. Pretty much every positive social activity in the UK - and many beyond - have an association with Royal Family and mentioning the ones you're involved with – and that you know about the connection - can demonstrate the values you share with the Household."

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James' other top tips include only applying for jobs you are actually interested in. "If it's clear on your C.V. that you wanted to do something else, I'm not going to believe you when you say you really want to be an office administrator without a really convincing pitch," he advises. "You've got to have a reason for why you want to do the job, not just why you want to work for the organisation. I saw some very smart people who had no story to tell me as to why they wanted to be an administrator, except for the fact it was in Buckingham Palace, that's not what they are looking for."

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Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice

Similarly, only apply for jobs you are actually qualified for. "As I started through the pile of 500 applications for the Office Assistant, oh what I would have done for someone with an actual qualification in office administration! As there are few of those these days, the next best thing was solid academics in a writing heavy subject, and I paid particular attention to English Language at GCSE (the only assessed subject where you might actually write a letter or do some proofreading). Whatever you are applying to, be qualified."

When it comes to the application itself, be quick, be brief - and be perfect. "We would post job adverts on the royal careers portal (which you can subscribe to), and some other places depending on the job, and typically close applications after one week – by which time we'd likely have passed five hundred applications. These are not jobs to see and think 'Oh, I'll apply for that at the weekend' – if you wait you might miss it, apply for it now.

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"It's always a good bet when thinking about a job application, to try to put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter – any recruiter in the Royal Household is looking at a pile with hundreds of applications in it, and going to have to do a massive cut down to reach a manageable number. If someone is reading 500 applications then brevity becomes hugely valued, keep your language tight to the job description, answer the points they have asked for and add what makes you special - but don't overdo it."

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

Furthermore, James notes, "The Household is not a place that embraces typos, spelling mistakes, and other errors, particularly if you're applying to an administrative job. This is an application that you want to have checked and checked again. I’m dyslexic, and my application went through a thorough third-party review from my long-suffering proof-reader (edit: unlike this post, as has been pointed out!). Remember that there are likely hundreds of candidates so the first sift will be to take out as many people as possible as quickly as possible, whenever that is the case the first to be cut from the list are often people who’ve made an obvious error on the form."

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Finally, it's important to ensure people understand your qualifications. "Just because everyone in Buckingham Palace hugely values the Commonwealth and the Realms, do not assume that everyone who looks at your application understand the education systems in all of them… If you went to the top university in Canada for your subject, say so. If your Australian SSCE is equivalent to 4 A*s at A-level put that in the form."

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