The Structure of the Royal Household
There was no civil service, police force, or even a regular army, so the Royal Household, which, in a way, encompassed all three, was the largest expenditure. It was made up of three main departments:
- The Household
- confusingly, this also refers to all three elements together. This was the largest section of court.
- The Chamber
- a smaller, more elect group of courtiers, closer to the king
- The Privy Chamber
- the smallest of the three departments containing the king's friends
These three departments had two main jobs:
- to service the king's needs and desires
- to provide magnificence and hospitality to visitors
- This dealt with the service side, and its main job was to arrange food, lodgings, and comfort for the king.
- Contained many people, from the lowest servants who would carry out the tasks, to fairly important nobility who were to run it.
- It was governed by the Board of Green Cloth, and the head was called the Lord Steward.
- For newcomers, it was the ideal place to gain the king's favour and climb the royal ladder.
- Dealt with the magnificence side of the court -- the balls, the jousts, and the entertainment laid on for ambassadors, friends, and foreign visitors.
- Presided over by the Lord Chamberlain, whose job it also was to receive and entertain diplomats/ambassadors.
- Smaller than the household, but still contained many people, with opportunities for the king's favour if things were done well.
The Privy Chamber
- Smallest and most elite group at court, which gave the king a certain amount of privacy. Made up of the king's friends.
- Staffed by the Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber only -- no servants. They had the privilege of intimate and daily access to the king, which gave them:
- political influence -- channels of communications
- valued position
- For a female monarch, these became the Ladies of the Chamber.
- Headed by the Groom of the Stool, who also attended to the king's close-stool (the king's portable, closeable toilet).
- Privy Chamber ALWAYS moved with the king (the others did mostly, but not always).