Everything We Know About King Charles' Trusted Inner Circle

The British monarchy is currently in a state of transition following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022. While there have been reports that up to 100 members of the staff who have served King Charles III for decades may be facing job loss in the coming days and weeks, as The Guardian reported that several staff members received redundancy notices in the middle of the preparations for the queen's funeral procession, it's still clear that there are plenty of other people who will remain on staff and close to King Charles as he ascends the throne and becomes more comfortable as monarch. 

Of those people, only a handful have achieved status as being truly close to the head and heart of the Crown. These include two obvious people, King Charles' wife Camilla, Queen Consort, and his son Prince William, but they also include a handful of secretaries that have managed to become quite indispensable to both Charles and his wife. As the people who are most intimately acquainted with the details of the monarch's day, there's a lot of curiosity about who these people are and what they do for the king.

Here is a look at the people we know make up Charles' inner circle, and what their roles are really like within it.

Sir Clive Alderton is a key figure in the royal household

When it comes to people who aren't in King Charles III's immediate family and who could be described as the closest to him, perhaps none are as close as Sir Clive Alderton, the head of Charles' royal household. Alderton is a long-serving diplomat who was appointed as Principal Private Secretary to King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort, in 2015. Before that, he served as the English Ambassador to Morocco (via Hello! Magazine).

His 2015 appointment wasn't the first time that Alderton worked for Charles. He joined the team at Clarence House in 2006 as deputy Private Secretary to the then-Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall before moving up in the ranks to be named Private Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to their Royal Highnesses (via the Daily Mail). As the Daily Mail has noted, Alderton has been described as a "constant" at the side of King Charles, and that is unlikely to change anytime in the future.

Peter St. Clair-Erskine is master of the house

Peter St. Clair-Erskine is another member of the royal household who is said to be exceptionally close to both King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort, since he was brought into the royal household at Clarence House in 2014. St. Clair-Erskine's chief responsibility is master of the household, and it is he who makes sure the day-to-day operations and goings-on of the household run smoothly (per the Daily Mail).

One reason St. Clair-Erskine is a particularly trusted member of Charles' royal household is that he worked as the head of security for the royal family for ten years before his current appointment. In addition to that, St. Clair-Erskine was the director of a trust for Prince William and Prince Harry's school. 

However, this doesn't mean that his time with the royal family has been completely incident-free. In 2003, St. Clair-Erskine found himself at the center of an investigation after an intruder broke into Windsor Castle, an event that former Scotland Yard commander John O'Connor described as a "disaster." O'Connor told The Guardian that it was possible the blame lay at the feet of one person or several and explained, "Whether the culpability is going to be pointed at individual officers or whether it is the actual structure of the building itself ... I do not know."

Sophie Densham is the Queen Consort's closest aide

Sophie Densham has worked for Camilla, Queen Consort, for over ten years, and played a central role in the days that followed Queen Elizabeth's passing in September 2022.

Before joining the royal household, Densham first worked as a secretary at the Memorial Gates Trust, an organization established in 2002 in support of a monument that honors the men and women from India, the Caribbean, and numerous countries in Africa who took up arms during World War II on behalf of the British. Densham began working on the team in support of Camilla in 2008 before being promoted to private secretary in 2021 (per the Daily Mail).

It's unclear how Densham worked her way up to the position, but it's one that certainly saw her as a key figure during the funeral preparations for Queen Elizabeth II. In fact, Densham was photographed riding in a car with the Queen Consort and Catherine, Princess of Wales, as the three traveled in the queen's funeral procession (via the Daily Mail).

Jean Christophe-Gray is Prince William's closest aide

In February 2021, Kensington Palace announced that Jean-Christophe Gray, who previously worked for former Prime Minister David Cameron, had been hired to Prince William's staff (per Twitter). Gray immediately became William's closest advisor, automatically putting him in close proximity to William's father, King Charles.

As Tatler noted at the time of his hiring, Gray was well-known for being good with money, and the outlet described him as an "astute penny-pincher." At the time, the U.K. outlet The Sunday Times had noted that among other things, William was increasingly concerned with how much money was being spent on royal trips abroad. Gray was described by a source close to the hiring as "the model of a mandarin highflyer: clever, a little geeky and beyond reproach." Gray had studied at Oxford and the London School of Economics, both prestigious institutions that likely helped boost his position within the royal family.

Sir Edward Young worked for Queen Elizabeth

One member of Queen Elizabeth's staff that immediatley transitioned to King Charles' team following Elizabeth's death in September 2022 was her private secretary, Sir Edward Young. Young worked with Elizabeth for nearly two decades before she passed away. 

Before joining the royal family professionally, Young worked at Barclays Bank's international division from 1985 to 1997. As noted by The Sun, Young worked in a variety of positions for the bank, and in 1997 he began working for the bank's head office.

Young made a move into the world of politics in 1998 when he began to work for Michael Portillo, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, in 1999, and then moved on to advise William Hague, then the Leader of the Opposition. In 2004 he was hired as Assistant Private Secretary to Queen Elizabeth, and was promoted to Private Secretary in 2017 following the resignation of Christopher Geidt (per The Sun).

Angela Kelly was Queen Elizabeth's closest friend

Angela Kelly is well-known as Queen Elizabeth's personal designer and dressmaker. Kelly worked with Queen Elizabeth for over 30 years, and during that time the two became quite close. In fact, Elizabeth made sure that Kelly would continue to be provided for following her death in September 2022 by giving Kelly permission to continue to live at her grace-and-favour home at Windsor following the monarch's passing (per Tatler).

Tatler described Kelly as the Queen's "right hand woman" for the duration of the time that they knew one another. Kelly once opened up about their bond to The Telegraph, and explained, "We are two typical women. We discuss clothes, make-up, jewellery ... But we also have a lot of fun together. The Queen has a wicked sense of humour and is a great mimic. She can do all accents — including mine" (via Tatler).

Kelly and Elizabeth met by chance in 1992 when Kelly worked as a housekeeper. She received a call from Elizabeth months later asking if she would come on as the queen's dresser, and Kelly took the job. Kelly explained, "I suppose she must have liked me and decided I was trustworthy."

Prince William is heir apparent

In addition to the people who are employed by the Crown, there's one person who is an obvious confidant and pupil of King Charles. As the heir apparent, Prince William is one of the closest people in the world to the monarch.

It's been said that Charles and William have only grown closer in the years that have transpired since Prince Harry stepped back from senior royal duties alongside his wife Meghan Markle. William himself underscored his relationship with his father in the BBC documentary, "Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70," in which he explained that his father is incredibly disciplined. As William put it, "So, he has — and it's frustrated me in the past a lot — he has a routine. The only way to fit all this stuff in is things have to be compartmentalised. The man never stops" (via Hello! Magazine). 

William added that sometimes all that working meant that he and his brother could "barely even get to his desk to say goodnight to him," but it doesn't sound as if William has held that against his father. 

Camilla, Queen Consort, is King Charles' most trusted confidant

King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort, married in 2005 after decades of a relationship, an affair, and then a relationship again. The pair have been close since they first met, with Charles even being named godfather to Camilla's son, Tom (per PopSugar).

Charles and Camilla have been through a lot together, including the very famous breakdown of Charles' marriage to Princess Diana and then Diana's unexpected and tragic death in 1997. At this point, the two have a profound trust in one another, and it's not a stretch to argue that Camilla is the very center of Charles' most inner circle. As body language expert Judi James told The Express, the two almost have a parent-child-esque relationship at times. She said, "He tends to look as though he's the centre of attention, I think it looks as though she [nannies] him slightly and flatters him — so it's a complementary relationship."

Nicholas Soames is a close friend

Nicholas Soames is the grandson of Winston Churchill and has been one of King Charles' closest friends for decades. As Hello! Magazine has reported, the two were first introduced back in 1970 when Soames was named equerry to then-Prince Charles. He remained in the role for two years.

The two are so close that Charles was the best man at Soames' 1981 wedding to Catherine Weatherall, and in a comment to The Independent, a mutual friend described the relationship between Charles and Soames as "a great deal of mutual humour and banter but the utmost public discretion" (per Hello! Magazine).

In September 2022, Soames spoke to the BBC about how Charles' life will shift now that he is king. He pointed to Charles' long time as Prince of Wales as an "apprenticeship" he held at "the feet of a master" and explained, "As the King said last night, as he embarks on his new responsibilities, clearly his life will change, and his views and the way that he conducts himself will observe, of course, the constitutional principles."

Norton Knatchbull has known King Charles since childhood

Another very close, lifelong friend of King Charles' is Norton Knatchbull, the third Earl Mountbatten of Myanmar. As many royal historians and fans alike know, the first Earl Mountbatten was Charles' uncle, Louis, who was killed in an attack by IRA agents in 1979. Charles and Knatchbull have been close for a long time, and are so close that Knatchbull was named as one of Prince William's godparents (per Hello! Magazine).

Charles walked Knatchbull's daughter, Lady Alexandra, down the aisle on her wedding day in 2016 because her father was very ill at the time. Alexandra was the goddaughter of Princess Diana. 

If the name sounds familiar, it's possibly because Norton's wife is Penny Knatchbull, who was a close confidant to the late Prince Philip before he died. The two were said to have developed a friendship based on their shared love of the outdoors, despite the more than 30 years between them (via People). In the 2020 book "Prince Philip Revealed," author Ingrid Seward noted that Penny was the "second-most important woman in the Duke of Edinburgh's life — a constant confidante, loyal companion and 'keeper of secrets.'"