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Wednesday, Sep 23, 2020

Pilfering at the Palace: Police arrest Queen's servant after a spate of thefts including a vice admiral's medal that popped up on eBay for £350

Medal belonging to a vice-admiral is discovered listed on eBay for £350 . A member of the royal household staff aged 37 was arrested last Friday. Staff began noticing items going missing from the palace earlier this year

A member of the royal household staff has been arrested after a vice admiral’s medal was stolen from Buckingham Palace and appeared on eBay.

The Companion of the Order of the Bath medal belonging to the Master of the Household, Tony Johnstone-Burt OBE, was discovered listed on the auction website for £350.

Engraved glasses, bespoke picture frames with Prince Harry’s insignia on and handcrafted Smythson stationery were also said to have been stolen.

A 37-year-old hospitality assistant who has worked at the palace for six years was arrested at the Royal Mews last Friday.

A source said police were informed when staff began noticing items missing from the palace earlier this year, and the eBay listings were discovered during the subsequent investigation.

It is not unusual for some things to go missing from inside the palace, but it was ‘astonishing’ for the Order of the Bath medal to be taken, they added.

Scotland Yard confirmed a 37-year-old man was arrested on Friday, August 7, on suspicion of stealing items from the royal household.

The arrested man regularly posts on social media about visits to royal estates such as Balmoral and Sandringham.

He also boasted of his invitations to the weddings of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018, as well as Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank that October.

His aunt, who lives in Scarborough, told the Daily Mail she had been shocked to hear about the arrest.

‘It is not like him at all. He is absolutely lovely. He has been working at the palace for six years. I don’t know exactly what he does there,’ she said.

The man – who was arrested at his home in the historic Royal Mews, part of the Buckingham Palace grounds which traditionally houses stable hands and other royal staff members – has been bailed while under investigation.

Former Navy officer, Vice Admiral Tony Johnstone-Burt, 62, was awarded the CB in 2013 and became Master of the Household to the sovereign the same year.

The Order of the Bath is an order of chivalry and was founded in 1725. It has a civil and military division and is awarded in one of three ranks: Knight Grand Cross, Knight Commander and Companion.

It takes its name from the symbolic bathing which would form part of the preparation of a candidate.

Vice Admiral Johnstone-Burt is in charge of ‘below stairs’ operations, responsible for 250 staff covering catering, housekeeping, entertainment, maintenance and administration.

He is the second most senior officer in the palace hierarchy after the Lord Chamberlain, and is in charge of all ceremonial events such as investitures.

He was at the Queen’s side when she took the salute for the reduced Trooping the Colour ceremony at Windsor in June. And he has been with her throughout her time in lockdown at Windsor Castle.

He was also reported to have had a row with Prince Andrew in September when he refused to allow the prince the use of a Buckingham Palace room for his Pitch@Palace event.

Vice Admiral Johnstone-Burt could not be reached for comment.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said they could not comment on a police investigation.

A Met spokesman confirmed that a 37-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of theft. ‘The arrest follows an investigation into the theft of items from premises belonging to the Royal Household,’ they added. ‘The investigation is ongoing.’

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