It is one of the more unusual roles occupied by the Queen’s courtiers, but Washer of the Sovereign’s Hands is a post that must now be filled.
Mandrake learns that the holder of the title, Peter Houison Craufurd, died on Monday, at the age of 82. He always had a silver ewer, bowl and salver holding a linen towel on permanent standby.
“We used to have to write to Buckingham Palace to offer to wash the monarch’s hands every time they were in residence at the Palace of Holyroodhouse,” said Houison Craufurd.
“In his day, my father had to make that offer virtually every year, although it was very seldom accepted.
“More recently, we have been told by the Queen’s office that, as we have already washed her hands once, that is all she requires us to do. So now we have to wait until Prince Charles takes the throne before we do it again.”
Houison Craufurd, who was the 28th laird of Craufurdland Castle, in Ayrshire, held the title because one of his ancestors chased off a pair of murderous thugs attacking James V. In return, the king gave him a farm, on the condition that his family be ready with water and towels to wash the monarch’s hands.
“The ceremony, or the washing, requires three people. I washed George VI’s hands at Holyrood when I was eight.” He washed the Queen’s hands a year after her coronation.
It is understood that his eldest son, Alex Houison Craufurd, will inherit the title.
Houison Craufurd, who hit the headlines when he set up a business promoting environmentally friendly funerals, was buried in Craufurdland Woods, on Wednesday.
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