Why a major headache awaits royal household when the clocks go forward

Queen’s delight at display of artefacts at Windsor

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This Sunday, March 27, the clocks in the UK will go forward by one hour at 1am. Officially the UK will be on British Summer Time (BST), allowing for more daylight in the evenings and less in the mornings, hence why it is sometimes known as Daylight Saving Time. While we’ll all have to remember to change the clocks on our watches, ovens and car radios on Sunday, a very long to-do list awaits some royal staff members.

How many clocks are in the royal households?

More than 1,000 clocks are dotted around the Queen’s official residences, which includes Windsor Castle, the Queen’s main residence nowadays.

There are thought to be 450 timepieces at Windsor, and another 50 at the Palace of Holyroodhouse – the Queen’s official Scottish residence.

But Buckingham Palace tops them all, with a staggering 600 timepieces housed at monarchy HQ in London.

Some clocks in the royal households are historically very important, such as the French clock that takes pride of place in Windsor’s State Dining room.

The clock was gifted in 1844 to the Queen’s great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria by the then-King of France, Louis-Philippe.

The Royal Collection Trust explains there is an array of “musical clocks, astronomical clocks, miniature clocks and turret clocks” across the households.

Conservators will even spend a day a week winding clocks to make sure the pendulums keep swinging on mechanical clocks.

Whose job is it to change the clocks?

All of the precious timepieces within royal households are cared for by a dedicated specialist horologist.

Last year when the clocks went back, the Royal Family shared an insight into the clock situation at the palaces on their social media channels.

Alongside a video of Windsor’s chief horologist, the caption read: “For those living in the UK, don’t forget that clocks go back an hour tonight.

“Did you know there are over 1,000 clocks within Her Majesty’s official residences?

“Each timepiece is conserved by a special horologist and each will be set back an hour this Sunday.”

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How long does it take to change all the clocks?

Windsor Castle’s horological conservator has noted it takes “about a weekend” to set all the clocks on the estate to the right time.

He said in the Royal Family’s video: “We have 400 clocks on the estate of which 250 are inside the castle and the rest are distributed around the estate.

“I go round once a week to wind them up so I get to know every clock very well.

“Just like a car that needs an MOT every now and then, a clock will need a service every couple of years.

“Twice a year we have the clock change. In summer the clocks go forward an hour in winter they go backwards.

“When we set the clocks backwards in winter it’s a different process for every clock.

“In summer it’s much easier because every clock just goes forward one hour and each time it takes me about a weekend to set all the clocks to the right time.”

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