The Butler Did It
The fictional butlers who feature in numerous key roles within films, dramas and literature tend to be larger than life characters who attract a great deal of attention to themselves, making wry, witty comments as they open doors and serve at tables. These are the complete opposite of the real life butlers, who generally strive to make their employers lives go as smoothly as possible, operating in a discreet manner with absolute grace and efficiency.
The Butler Was Traditionally Considered To Be A Male Role
Despite the fact that traditionally the butler role has been considered a male one, times are changing and training establishments including the renowned International Butler Academy in the Netherlands and several of the British Butler Academy’s that have recently been opened in China have seen intakes of women accounting for approximately one third of the total trainee intake.
It is great to see more women entering this role, breaking the traditional stereotype and demand for female butlers is particularly high in some parts of the world, including the middle and Far East, where cultural differences often make it preferable to fill the butler role with a suitable female candidate.
There are also many Western families also select female butlers, in fact back in 2004, Buckingham Palace announced that they were actively seeking female candidates to fill their position!
What Does The Butler Role Really Involve?
Flexibility is the key word for the modern day butler as this role has become very similar to that of a PA, with employers defining the role to meet their individual needs. In certain households, the role remains very traditional and certainly, a butler needs to be fully capable of handling formal tasks including:
- Table service and general hospitality
- Care and maintenance of antiques, artwork and fine wine
- Supervision of other staff members within the household
- Household management
In addition to the traditional duties you would expect, butlers take on all manner of everyday tasks, enabling the household to run smoothly, taking care of the smallest details. Additional tasks could include:
- Event planning and hospitality
- Budgeting, administration and management of bills
- Grocery shopping and cooking
- Security planning
The role of a butler involves a great deal of responsibility for a broad spectrum of different tasks; it therefore suits flexible individuals with a broad and varied skill set. Essentially the butler is required to take of any tasks that will free up the employers time to focus on other things.
Long And Often Unsociable Hours
The butler role is incredibly demanding and long hours are typical with many individuals working up to 60 hours or more per week. The level of availability that is expected, coupled with longer than average hours makes it a job that is not suited to everyone, particularly those who need to balance the needs of their own family alongside their position.
The British Butler
The huge quantity of fictional butlers with British accents has lead to a misconception that butlers are a British institute and of course, the recent success of ‘Downton Abbey’ has only increased this perception. In truth, despite the worldwide appeal of the British accent, this role has existed throughout Europe and America for centuries.
Did The Butler Really Do It?
“The butler did it” is such a familiar cliché and yet throughout fictional history butlers were generally merely suspects in storylines rather than actual villains. In the 1930’s novel ‘The Door‘ by Mary Roberts Rinehart, the butler was, for once found to be the villain and despite the fact that the words do not actually appear within her book, this famous cliché is widely attributed to this author.
For more information about how Eden can help you find just the right butler for your household, head through to our butler/household manager section of our website.