Royal News

Queen’s staff will spend 40 hours winding back her 1,000 clocks tonight

The clocks go back tonight meaning you’ll be treated to an extra hour in bed tomorrow morning.

An event which used to be an important date in the diary now often passes almost unnoticed with technology taking the headache off our hands.

There’s still a few clocks to contend with, such as the one on the oven which feels like you need a PHD in programming to figure out – but spare a thought for members of the Queen’s staff.

Those who work for Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Collection Trust will reportedly spend about 40 collective hours altering more than 1,000 timepieces.

It includes 600 clocks at Buckingham Palace, 400 at Windsor Castle, and 50 at the Palace of Holyroodhouse – as well as a number of big tower clocks.

To make the job even harder, it appears the responsibility of changing the clocks in each location lands at the feet of just one person.

Fjodor van den Broek, the horological conservator at Windsor Castle, is facing his first autumn clock change since taking on the role, telling the BBC he plans to spend 16 hours over the weekend getting the job done.

He’s tasked with finding and changing all 400 clocks on the Windsor estate, with 250 in the castle itself and seven tower clocks.

Fjodor even has to contend with changing time zones in different areas of the castle, with clocks always running exactly five minutes fast in the kitchens to ensure food arrives on time.

“It’s just myself, and I have one colleague at Buckingham Palace who changes all the clocks there,” he said.

Even when his work to set he correct timings is complete, Fjodor will spend one full day a week winding up the mechanical clocks to keep the pendulums swinging, racking up about 16,000 steps to do so.

The remainder of the week is spent in a workshop servicing and repairing the very same clocks, some of which are 200 to 300 years old but still ticking along thanks to the constant upkeep.

Ahead of his monumental time-keeping task, Fjodor said: “Most of the clocks are quite accurate but every now and then, for no reason, they will suddenly start losing or gaining time – something which I’ve just started calling ‘life’.

“So I do have to keep a constant eye on them.”

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