The feudal spirit lives on in the butler business

Students at the International Butler Academy
Students at the International Butler Academy

The word butler conjures something resolutely antique. Say the word “butler” and images of a Jeeves-type donning tails and a feudal spirit are most likely what come to mind. But according to one highly pampered writer, the butler is alive and well.

Jeeves, the ultimate gentlemen's gentleman
Jeeves, the ultimate gentlemen’s gentleman

“Luxury explorer” and Forbes contributor, Jim Dobson, explains that he has had a six different butlers in the course of his travels. He says that today’s butler is less a servant in a dinner jacket and more an extension of the family. Noblesse oblige, you might say.

“They were all shapes and sizes, ages and races. One, a diminutive Indian woman, another a towering Jamaican, one offered to carry me into the ocean from my lounge (I declined), one went shopping every day and left a wrapped gift on my bed, one sat in my villa kitchen for 12 hours awaiting orders (much to my dismay), and one man in Africa was so psychic he offered me daily wisdom,” he writes, with all the dignity of someone who, gasp, refuses to be physically carried by the help.

The point of all this being that not only is the buttling business still kicking, sneers of them are being trained at specialty schools like the International Butler Academy in Huize Damiaan, a former monastery in the south of the Netherlands.

Huize Damiaan
Huize Damiaan

The International Guild of Professional Butlers estimates that there are currently a few million professional butlers in the world and that their numbers have surged in the past 10 years.