Historic Royal Palaces charity that runs Tower of London and Hampton Court settles bullying and racial discrimination claims from staff with confidential five-figure payouts
- Historic Royal Palaces has settled bullying and racial discrimination complaints
- Employees received ‘five figure’ payouts after complaining of discrimination
- Black staffer said manager described visitors as being from ‘bongo-bongo land’
- Other employees described ‘culture of favouritism’ and alleged discrimination
The charity responsible for the upkeep of some of Britain’s most famous Royal palaces and residences has settled bullying and racial discrimination complaints from staff with confidential ‘five-figure’ payouts.
Historic Royal Palaces, governed by trustees partly appointed by the Queen, maintains sites including the Tower of London, Hampton Court and Kensington Palace, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live.
Staff have described witnessing or experiencing discrimination at the residences, with a black employee being paid after a senior manager allegedly described visitors to the Tower as being from ‘bongo-bongo land’.
The 2017 incident reportedly took place during a meeting and sparked an external investigation following a complaint from the BAME staffer.
However, a spokesperson for Historic Royal Palaces told MailOnline that the senior manager apologised and the incident was investigated by an external third party, which ruled that the incident had been resolved.
The black staffer was paid a settlement and moved to a difference residence. Others described a ‘culture of favouritism’ and alleged they had been discriminated against and passed over for promotion, the Guardian reports.
Another claimed they were bullied by their manager and left the charity after fearing they would be ‘hounded out’ if they did not accept a voluntary redundancy offer. Several felt they had been discriminated against because of their background, and questioned the management’s determination to tackle racial discrimination.
A spokesperson said that non-disclosure agreements have been signed, but said they were not uncommon for charities seeking to resolve disputes cost-effectively.
Staff have described witnessing or experiencing discrimination at the Royal residences, with a black employee being paid after a senior manager allegedly described visitors to the Tower of London, pictured, as being from ‘bongo-bongo land’
Historic Royal Palaces, governed by trustees partly appointed by the Queen, maintains sites including the Tower of London and Hampton Court, pictured
They said the agreements did not necessarily prove wrongdoing or liability, but acknowledged staff grievances.
A member of its board of trustees will be tasked with conducting an internal review of the charity’s working environment.
Historic Royal Palaces has made 25 payments with confidentiality agreements to members of staff over the past eight years worth £488,090, according to information obtained through Freedom of Information requests by the Guardian.
Not all the payments related to instances where staff complained of bullying or racial discrimination, though at least two employees who did raise such concerns received settlements with confidentiality clauses.
A spokesperson told this publication that individual cases frequently concern a number of matters, and cannot necessarily be attributed to a particular category.
The charity said that for that reason, it was difficult for them to give a specific figure for cases related to bullying or racial discrimination.
MailOnline has contacted the charity for further information.
In September, Historic Royal Palaces said it had been forced to reduce its workforce in the face of an almost 90 per cent reduction in income to about £10million due to the brutal cycle of coronavirus lockdowns.
Up to 145 roles are at risk of redundancy, it added in a statement.
In a statement to MailOnline, spokeswoman Laura Hutchinson said: ‘Historic Royal Palaces does not tolerate bullying and racial discrimination of any kind, and is committed to treating all staff with dignity and respect in the workplace.
Kensington Palace, pictured, was the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria and also the London residence of Princess Diana
‘We have comprehensive policies and procedures in place to support this commitment and ensure that any concerns are properly investigated and dealt with. We have never sought to conceal allegations of this nature.
‘On the contrary, on the rare occasions where settlement agreements are required, they include provision for employees to make disclosures, such as the reporting of misconduct.
‘Creating a culture where everyone feels included, valued and respected requires constant attention. Where there are lapses in our standards we must acknowledge our responsibilities, respond in a robust fashion to address and grievances and learn from the experience.
‘For this reason, the recently appointed chair of our people committee and trustee, Sarah Jenkins, will now oversee a review, looking at how the culture of the organisation can fully reflect our commitment to equality and diversity.’
The six sites have set the scene for some of the most remarkable moments in British history, such as the negotiation of the Good Friday agreement.
Kensington Palace was the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria. It was also the London residence of Princess Diana, whose dresses were rescued by the charity from private ownership and are still among the biggest attractions today.
The Tower of London is a World Heritage Site and boasts more than 1,000 years of history. It is famously also home to the 23,578 gemstones that make up the Crown Jewels, which are still used in our royal ceremonies.
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