Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

SHOCK CLAIMS OF RACISM AT HIGHGROVE; Secretary Accuses Prince Charles's Valet

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

SHOCK CLAIMS OF RACISM AT HIGHGROVE; Secretary Accuses Prince Charles's Valet

Article excerpt

Byline: MARTIN MCGLOWN

A FORMER personal secretary to the Prince of Wales today claimed that one of Charles ' s favourite valets called her "a f***ing nigger typist".

Elizabeth Burgess, 39, broke down in tears as she recounted the alleged abuse to an employment tribunal.

She says she was a victim of sexual and racial discrimination during her 10 years of working at Highgrove and is claiming constructive and wrongful dismissal against the prince.

Mrs Burgess said that although she got on very well with Charles, some of his household staff "are still very much the old school". She added: "They haven't really accepted black people. I never felt part of the team.

There was always black jokes and names going around."

Mrs Burgess told the tribunal that at one meeting to discuss staff procedures, Michael Fawcett, a valet to the prince, called her "just a f***ing nigger typist". Mrs Burgess began sobbing.

She told the tribunal: "I will be okay. It just brings back memories."

Referring to Mr Fawcett, she added: "There was no point of making a complaint-against him. Nothing would be done about it. The prince adored him... everyone knew that."

The mother-of-two was one of three black employees among a staff of about 80 at the prince's estate in Gloucestershire. She began working there in 1991 but left in March this year. Originally she was paid [pound]40,000 as a fulltime member of staff but, after she took maternity leave in 1998, her wage was halved when she reluctantly became part-time and agreed to a job-share arrangement.

Mrs Burgess described herself as a faithful "servant" who would drop everything to be at her employer's call.

But the Bristol tribunal heard that she left after a turbulent period during which she was accused of working too few hours.

According to her contract, she was required to work a 20-hour week "on average".

But in reality, the tribunal heard, her time at work averaged only around 15 hours per week. Mrs Burgess, who spent much time in the company of the prince, said she understood her role to involve attendance at Highgrove only when the prince was present, plus call-outs to support other staff "only in exceptional circumstances". …

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