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His lifestyle would seem extravagant to Louis XIV a team of four valets so that one is always available to lay out and pick up his clothes a servant to squeeze his toothpaste on to his brush and another who once held the specimen bottle while he gave a urine sample Step into the world of the Prince of Wales a lifestyle so pampered that even the Queen has complained that it is grotesque As the storm of scandal which has engulfed the royal family since the collapse of the Paul Burrell theft trial continues unabated attention is focusing on the vast households employed by senior royals to look after every aspect of their personal and public lives and their role in bringing about the current crisis It is the 85-strong court of Prince Charles that has emerged most seriously discredited - with a growing number of MPs demanding to know how he can justify such a large staff - at least one of whom is accused of fencing gifts Archaic At the end of a year that was being heralded as a triumph for the reinvented modernised scaled-down royal family the unedifying reality revealed to the public this week is of a strictly hierarchical archaic institution that has sneaked into the 21st century rife with bullying bitching backstabbing and general bad behaviour while the prince turned a blind eye and on occasion even aided and abetted some of the excesses In the end it might not be the rape tape allegations that do the most damage What will the British public think of an institution already fabulously wealthy that has servants carry out the most menial of tasks while others hawk its unwanted silverware around various shops for a pocketful of tax-free fivers Charless supporters make much of the fact that the prince does not receive money from the civil list Instead his
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