One of the things I always find hard to understand is that the Windsors and the royal press attacked the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for being “too political” while the major royal offices have a steady stream of Tory Party members, and there’s a big exchange program going on between Downing Street and the palaces. Many of the Queen’s top advisors worked for the Conservative Party. Same with Prince Charles and now Prince William too. William in particular has always had issues retaining staff, so it’s even more notable when a Tory advisor comes in for a year to act as William’s private secretary (the equivalent of a chief of staff), then leaves in a storm of controversy.
So it was for Christian Jones, who oversaw so many of the Cambridges’ disasters in the past year and a half. Jones oversaw things like the Maskless Covid Choo Choo Tour, the absolute clown show tour of Ireland, and the “Catherine the Great” Tatler debacle. He was also spilling all the dirt to his lover, and then his lover was selling that information to Dan Wootton. Jones suspiciously resigned in January, just after Day 1 of the Duchess of Sussex’s summary judgment hearing, where he was named as one several staffers advising Meghan on the letter to her father. Now… William has yet another Tory as a private secretary.
Prince William has hired a former Treasury employee best known for his cost-cutting expertise as his new private secretary, as he seeks to reduce the costs of royal travel, amongst other things. Jean-Christophe Gray, an Oxford and London School of Economics graduate, was known in Whitehall for being an astute penny-pincher, and worked for chancellors of the exchequer including Alistair Darling, George Osborne and Rishi Sunak.
He was also former Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman, making him the second hire for William’s team of a former Cameron employee. Simon Case, William’s previous secretary, had held the same position for Cameron, but returned to work at Whitehall last year.
‘JC’ as he is known to colleagues will replace outgoing advisor Christian Jones, who is leaving to take up a role at private equity firm Bridgepoint.
According to The Times, William is particularly concerned by the increase in expenditure on official royal travel, which rose from £4.6 million in 2018-19 to £5.3 million in 2019-20. A source speaking to the newspaper described Gray as ‘the model of a mandarin highflyer: clever, a little geeky and beyond reproach’.
The news comes as the Cambridge family prepares to swap life in Norfolk at Anmer Hall for London once again, as they return to Kensington Palace in time for Prince George and Princess Charlotte to return to Thomas’s Battersea on 8 March.
With Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing a ‘road map’ to easing lockdown this evening, we could see more of the Duke and Duchess undertaking socially-distanced events from the capital, rather than on Zoom, in the near future.
“William is particularly concerned by the increase in expenditure on official royal travel, which rose from £4.6 million in 2018-19 to £5.3 million in 2019-20…” William, know thyself. William wanted to go to Ireland just as Covid was spreading across Europe. William wanted to do the Covid Choo Choo tour using the expensive Royal Train. William is the one who has to travel everywhere by helicopter. No, but really, this is William’s way of getting under his father’s skin and attacking Charles. Charles does spend too much on private planes and expensive tours (which people rarely pay attention to). So that’s what this is. But, you know, political.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.
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