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The Toilet Duty Dukes and Duchesses of England

We all know politics is a dirty business, and here we have an overly literal illustration of that concept. Once upon a time, before modern plumbing, just about everyone used an outhouse of some sort. Royalty was never seen making the walk to outdoor facilities, though, because they had the facilities brought to them. That, of course, involved servants. The “servants” who attended to the royal toilet activities were a different breed than most royal serfs.  

Those precious moments of alone time in the bathroom are priceless to many of us, and yet strangely enough, it was one of the few luxuries the King and Queen of England could not afford. Until as recently as the 20th century, the British monarchy appointed what was known as the “Groom of the Stool”, a courtier responsible for assisting them in the performance of “bodily functions of excretion and ablution”. And this wasn’t the role of any ordinary household servant. The appointment was offered to Dukes and Duchesses, Earls and Lords, Count and Viscounts– even future Prime Ministers of England, who willingly took a job that more or less entailed wiping the King’s bottom…

The reasons why are laid out at Messy Messy Chic, and may explain some of our more vulgar phrases that refer to ambitious employees and social climbers.


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