Immaculately dressed in his butler attire, William French, former royal butler, regaled MHWI members with tales from his career with the royal family to current times. He began with explaining how he came to sign up for the Royal Navy at the tender age of 15 1/2, originally training as a chef but rapidly deciding he wanted to become a steward. Once trained, William served on land until the Falklands War beckoned. As a 17 1/2 year old he sailed on HMS Battleaxe to the Falklands where he was a gunner, but also was one of the first people to go on board HMS Gallahad as a first aider. Helping the injured was only one of the war incidents that rapidly led him to coping with sights that most of us hope never to see.
After William returned to the UK, he had the chance to work on the Royal Yacht Britannia. He grasped this opportunity and was able to serve many members of the royal family on trips around the world. Photos helped us to envisage rooms inside the yacht. William gave us humorous snippets of encounters with the royal family.
Following marriage, William left the Navy, moving on to work as a butler to many distinguished or famous people, including a lord, touring with the original cast of Calendar Girls and butlering for Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The latter led to a story about ‘chicken fillets’ and an evening dress!
You can see more of William on Channel 5 this May, when he will on board well known yachts again, talking viewers through daily life as a butler. He is also on the One Show.