In anticipation of the Duchess of Cambridge (a.k.a. Kate Middleton)'s second baby, we caught up with a footman from London's The Goring Hotel to see what the life of young royalty is really like.
Footmen at The Goring.
Oscar Clarke, Head Footman at royal-favorite hotel The Goring in London, was one of the last people to see the Duchess of Cambridge before she left the public eye to focus on preparing for baby number two. We sat down with Clarke on his recent visit to New York CIty to chat about all things royal and VIP, including how the hotel goes above and beyond for its youngest customers and what kind of afternoon he’d plan for the royal family.
For us Americans, tell us what a footman does. OSCAR CLARKE: Many hotels have butlers but only the very smartest can have footmen. They have always been an extravagance from the days they first appeared in the great country houses across Europe. They show great wealth and style and were usually extremely handsome young men. Obviously, this is exactly the type of person they employed at The Goring! [Laughs]
You met the Duchess at The Goring’s renovation in March. What was that like? OC: We were all so honored that the Duchess of Cambridge agreed to come and open the hotel following its closure earlier this year. Obviously the Duchess is no stranger to The Goring, having spent her last night here before getting married to His Royal Highness Prince William. She agreed to put the finishing touches on the hand-painted Fromental wallpaper and painted in the mane on the unicorn. I stood alongside The Duchess and presented her with the necessary paints and paint brushes on a red velvet cushion, which was originally used at The Prince of Wales Investiture in Caernarfon Castle.
Footmen carrying gifts at The Goring.
Fancy! If you were to throw a baby shower for her, what would it be like? OC: Part of my job is utter discretion as I work closely with the guests under my care. Anything I would help organize would be surrounded with the utmost secrecy and sensitivity to allow the Duchess to enjoy such a private occasion with her friends. However, you can rest assured that it would be fun, memorable, and perfectly suited for the Duchess.
In what ways does the hotel cater to babies? OC: When it comes to babies and children I introduce my guests to our wonderful Executive Housekeeper—affectionately known by all as “Matron.” She has a wonderful array of paraphernalia that she can offer for a little one’s stay: Beautiful bespoke cots, the sweetest of linens, some perfect for little boys and some for little girls. She also works alongside our specialist team of babysitters to ensure that mum and dad have a fabulous time at The Goring, [too].
Gorgeous. How have you gone above and beyond for your young clients? OC: I suppose the time [when] we really looked after a particular young man. He arrived with his grandmother, who took to her bed almost as soon as I had unpacked her clothes. Their stay was planned for a week and there were many wonderful trips that had been organized so her grandson could enjoy his holiday. Now that his grandmother was somewhat incapacitated, it fell to us, the hotel staff, to see through all the arrangements and to fill his time. We organized a day working in our kitchens and another day working for Big John and the Concierge desk. He had been booked for a day trip to Paris and we took him on this. He loved his journey on the Eurostar and was very excited when we took him up the Eiffel Tower.
How fabulous. What would you plan for the Duchess and her family? OC: A really private celebration. I have no doubt I would take them all into The Garden. We’re the only luxury hotel in London to have its own completely private garden. Measuring just a few feet more than the center court at Wimbledon, it is a haven from the hustle and bustle of this capital city. [The garden is] surrounded by antique urns overflowing with flowers and wonderful areas to hide, such as the nook and the cranny at the bottom of the garden—there would be no shortage of things to do.