Chief Executive Michael Day CVO announces retirement

Chief Executive Michael Day CVO announces retirement

31 August 2016


Michael Day CVO, Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces, the conservation and education charity responsible for the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace, Banqueting House and Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland, has announced his decision to retire at the end of June 2017.

Michael Day has served as Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces since 2003 and has worked in the heritage sector for more than 40 years. Under his leadership, Historic Royal Palaces has delivered major conservation and restoration projects at all of the palaces in its care, including the external repair and conservation of the 11th century White Tower at the Tower of London, a full re-presentation of Henry VIII’s State Apartments at Hampton Court Palace, a dramatic transformation of Kensington Palace’s exhibition spaces and visitor facilities, and a complete restoration of Kew Palace, George III’s former home.  Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland was added to the portfolio in 2014.

During Michael Day’s tenure, there have been many new developments, with visitor numbers rising from 2.7m in 2003/2004 to 4m in 2015/2016. Highlights have included the new display of the Crown Jewels which opened at the Tower of London in 2012, and radical temporary installations such as ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, the installation of 888,246 ceramic poppies in the Tower moat to mark the centenary of the First World War in 2014. At Kensington Palace in 2010, the experimental Enchanted Palace experience combined contemporary art and fashion with live theatre, attracting a new audience to the renowned royal residence. At Hampton Court Palace, the new Magic Garden, an adventure play garden inspired by Tudor history, was officially opened by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge in May this year.

Michael Day’s work was recognised in his appointment as Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in the New Year Honours 2015.

Michael Day CVO, Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces, said: “It has been the greatest honour and privilege to have served as Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces for the past 13 years. I am grateful to have had the support and help of so many generous people throughout the country and around the world. We have achieved some extraordinary things together. With many more exciting projects underway, I am looking forward to making the most of my final months in post before I retire at the end of June 2017.”
Rupert Gavin, Chairman of Historic Royal Palaces, said: “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to salute the extraordinary role that Michael has played in leading Historic Royal Palaces for over thirteen years. He will leave next summer an organisation that is flourishing, is in great health, is self-sufficient and is now well recognised nationally and internationally as a paragon of heritage management at its very best. What a transformation he has presided over. We all thank him for his years of tireless contribution, and wish him well for his well-earned retirement. He will be handing over the baton with HRP at the peak of its game. He will be greatly missed by colleagues from across the organisation and across the sector.”

Recruitment for Michael Day’s successor will begin on 1 September 2016. Gatenby Sanderson will lead the process and an appointment is likely to be made in the New Year.

The new Chief Executive will continue work on a number of important projects which will come to fruition in the next few years, including the major development project at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland and the restoration of The Great Pagoda at Kew.


Notes for Editors

For more information or images, please contact the Historic Royal Palaces press office on 020 3166 6166 or email

Historic Royal Palaces
Established by Royal Charter in 1998, Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace the Banqueting House, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and Historic Royal Palaces manages them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Historic Royal Palaces cares for Hillsborough Castle under a separate contract with the Northern Ireland Office. Historic Royal Palaces raises all its own funds and depends on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers.

Historic Royal Palaces’ Cause is to help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built.

The charity has a turnover of around £90m, welcomes 4 million visitors to its sites every year, employs over 800 people, is supported by 200 regular volunteers and has over 90,000 Members.

Michael Day – brief biography
Michael Day started his career as a curator with the Norfolk Museums Service in 1974 before moving in 1983 to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum.   In 1987, he was appointed Director of the Jersey Heritage Trust, where he twice won the Museum of the Year award.  In 2003, he became Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces.

Currently, he is chair of the Battersea Arts Centre, a trustee of the National Trust and a board member of the Royal Tennis Court.  He formerly served as a trustee of the Alnwick Garden Trust and board member of the UK’s Cultural Leadership Programme. Michael has lectured and spoken at conferences around the world on cultural leadership, and historic site management and interpretation.

Michael was awarded an honorary doctorate by Kingston University in 2010 for his work in the heritage and museums sector, and received the Museums & Heritage 2015 Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual to the Heritage Sector.  He was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in the New Year Honours 2015.

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