A retinue is a crew of people who take care of the King and Queen, Prince and Princess, or Baron and Baroness during their reign, providing personal support and care both at home and at events so that the King and Queen (or other representatives) are free to perform their duties.
In the case of the King and Queen/Prince and Princess, they are referred to as Royal Retinue. For a Baron and Baroness, Baronial Retinue.
This care and support may take the form of setting up and breaking down camp, organizing court, taking notes at meetings, fetching and carrying, minding children, delivering messages, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and more.
How Retinue are Selected
The members of a retinue are chosen by the couple.
Usually the retinue is composed of people who the royal or baronial couple know and trust to be hard working, reliable and discreet. Being on retinue is hard work. Think of it as being the stage crew for a major theatrical performance. They do the majority of the work behind the scenes that make court flow smoothly and efficiently. A good retinue can make the royal or baronial couple look great. A lazy or ill-prepared retinue can really make court slow, boring and, frankly, not worth going to. Each reign is different and each set of royalty or representatives handles its retinue differently. The Head Lady-in-Waiting is like the stage director and tries to be at all events that the royal or baronial couple go to.
The Crown (or other representative) is not required to use the same people; however, there is often a "core" of retinue that is known to be reliable and experienced. That is why you often see the same people up there through multiple reigns. The other people that you see behind the thrones (in royal court) are heralds and attendants for any Prince/ess, Baron/ess that are there. Again, there is often a core group so you will see the same people often.
Many Crowns have Royal Counsel/Advisers to help them. Generally these people are former Royalty or former Kingdom officers and are very experienced with the nuances and politics of ruling. The advisers are more or less "sounding boards" to talk to about issues and get points of view from before They make decisions. There is sometimes a Royal councilor and that person does basically the same thing but is listed as a contact person.
Generally there is a Head Lady in Waiting to wrangle the attendants behind the thrones for both the King & Queen. There is also generally a Captain of the Guard to wrangle the guards who provide muscle and ceremonial "protection". The guards are often the people that put up the royal pavilion, thrones, unload the trailer and handle any other brute force needs. Sometimes there are separate King's and Queen's guards, but just as often it is one group.
A retinue usually consists of the following, but is not limited to these positions:
- Head lady in waiting - Stage manager of the reign, to wrangle the attendants behind the thrones.
- A group of ladies in waiting (usually at least eight for royals) - Stage hands (a lot of work)
- Captain of the Queens/Princesses/Baronesses guard (In charge of heavy lifting and sets the schedule for guardsmen to escort the queen)
- The Queens/Princesses/Baronesses Guard (once again at least 8 for royalty, usually the same number as ladies in waiting). They set up and take down the royal pavilion, escort the Queen outside of court and answer challenges in the Queen's name.
- Chief Scribe - This person usually takes notes at court of gifts received, awards given and other business that may require other work after court is completed.
- Other scribes - These can be ladies in waiting. They fill in charters and organize the scrolls for presentation.
- Personal Herald - Usually this is the Vox Leonis herald, but some royalty/representatives have personal favorites to run court from a heraldic standpoint.
There are more, but you get the point. It takes a LOT of people to get court running and flowing smoothly. Principalities and especially Baronies tend to have a smaller retinue, and may omit some, or many positions.
There are also the kingdom/principality/baronial champions (as appropriate) standing in court to serve. Yes, there are a lot of people up there.
Volunteering for Retinue
You see a lot of the same people up there from reign to reign because they are tested and tried in running a court. If you are interested in doing this, approach your local baroness or princess and ask if you can volunteer. As you get known for being a hard working person, your name will get known and, trust me, you WILL get grabbed to do the job. As the saying goes "Good help is hard to find" and when it is found, it gets picked up quickly!
Doing retinue can mean attending more events than you may be used to, as retinue is generally required at every event the Crown attends (or their representatives for Principality/Baronial) - which will be a lot. Ideally, retinues should consist of significantly more people than needed to allow for rotation of attendance duties.
See also: Queen's Guard