Statement on Redundancy Consultation at Historic Royal Palaces

Monday 14 September

Monday 14 September

It is with deep regret that we announce today that Historic Royal Palaces has entered into a period of consultation on proposed redundancies. 

At the beginning of this year, like so many other organisations in our sector, we could never have imagined we would be in this position. We were forecasting income of £110 million and looking forward to a busy year of exhibitions and events.  However, as an entirely self-funded charity, we have been particularly badly hit by the pandemic - both by the closure of our six sites for a prolonged period and by the major downturn in international tourism.  We are now forecasting income of around £10 million this year – a reduction of 89%.  We expect our recovery to take several years, and that means we must plan to live within half our usual income.  We have no choice but to take measures to reduce our costs.

We would not be proposing redundancies if we had not exhausted all other means available to us.  As soon as the pandemic hit, we stopped all but essential expenditure across the organisation.  We have taken full advantage of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme and are utilising our reserves, which we expect to be exhausted at the beginning of next year.  We continue to pursue all remaining avenues for additional funding and are enormously grateful for the continuing support of our members, donors and visitors.

Payroll normally accounts for around half of our costs, but this proportion is much higher with reduced income, and so it remains necessary to make savings in this area. We have gone some way to achieving this by freezing recruitment, ending seasonal contracts and making temporary adjustments to pay and pensions.  In addition, our voluntary redundancy scheme has made a substantial contribution to the savings we need to achieve.  However, further reductions remain necessary as we restructure the charity to withstand the challenging years ahead.

The restructuring proposals include a reduction of 86 full time equivalents out of the full complement of 1,165, (this equates to 145 roles potentially at risk of redundancy) plus other changes to terms and conditions. Final decisions will be made once the 45-day consultation is complete.

John Barnes, Chief Executive, Historic Royal Palaces, said,

‘At every stage of this crisis, we have tried to limit the impact of the financial challenges on our staff, who care passionately about the palaces and our work.  If we are to continue this work, we must act now to reduce payroll costs and make the charity financially sustainable.  We are privileged to be the guardians of six remarkable places, but the dedicated team who care for them are the spirit of our charity, and we are deeply sad that it has come to this.’

Notes to editors

For further information, please contact Laura Hutchinson via [email protected] / 07990726229.

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Historic Royal Palaces cares for Hillsborough Castle and Gardens under a separate contract with the Northern Ireland Office. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit