everyone at my company golfs, employee is freezing out a manager after he joked about King Charles, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Everyone at my company golfs

I work at a company where everyone golfs. The sales team golfs, the underwriters golf, and most of all the C-Suite golfs. When we have all-company meetings, the president makes jokes about the VP’s golf score. When I’m in line in the cafeteria, a VP jokes about how the only reason he’s at work today is because it’s bad weather for golfing.

Today, I found out that our work has purchased a golf simulator for the office. This is after a year when we were told no merit raises, because inflation. (I may note they are also completely renovating to add a bar.)

Frankly, I’m sick of golf! I work in a part of the company that’s primarily female and doesn’t interact directly with clients. None of us are golfers, and it’s frustrating for us when we’re on significant levels of overtime due to understaffing to hear stories about other employees spending all day at the course.

Is this just a case of “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em?” Do I just need to learn how to golf?

You might need to learn to golf. Or at least, you should take a clear-eyed look around your company and see what the evidence tells you: Do people move up without golfing? Does business get done on the golf course that you’re missing out on, or that you would miss out on in a higher-level position? It could be a situation where everyone golfs but it won’t affect you if you don’t. But if you’re going to take a hit to your career there, then you have to decide how much you care — are you willing to take up golf to avoid that? Or would you rather accept the limitations that will come with staying off the golf course (and know you’ll eventually need to move on in order to move up)?

Either one is a legitimate choice; just make sure you’re being realistic about the situation and what you and aren’t willing to do in response to it.

None of this is intended to imply the situation is fair, obviously, or wise on your company’s part. You’ve just got to be pragmatic about what you’re dealing with.

2. My employee is freezing out a manager after he joked about King Charles

I am a manager for a large company. There are five other people in my role and we share two administrative assistants. One of the admins, “Kate,” is really into the royal family. When there is a wedding or funeral, she will stream it at work or take the day off. There are also a lot of British decorations at her workspace, think a coffee mug with the Union Jack. (We’re in the U.S.)

A few days after Queen Elizabeth’s death, the six managers were preparing for a meeting in a conference room and Kate was helping. We were making small talk about current events and another manager, “William,” said, “It looks like a 73-year-old man will finally get a job.” The rest of us laughed or said things like “no kidding!” Kate was livid. She told William that what he said was disrespectful and hurtful. William said he was sorry, but it wasn’t very genuine. Personally, I think William’s joke was fine but he should have known better than to make it around Kate.

I thought this would blow over, but since this incident, Kate refuses to acknowledge William or do any work for him. Annual reviews are in a few weeks and I think this would be a good time to address this with Kate. It’s not appropriate for her to freeze William out this way and I want her to stop, but I’m not sure how to phrase this without sounding like I’m saying Kate is too sensitive or can’t take a joke, things that I know put people on the defensive. Any advice?

Don’t wait for her annual review in a few weeks; you need to nip this in the bud now. She’s welcome to have whatever personal thoughts about William she wants, but she cannot freeze out a colleague or refuse to do part of her job. That’s a really big deal, and if you let it go on for several more weeks, you’ll be neglecting a fundamental part of your own job, as well as allowing an unpleasant environment to fester for everyone else.

Sit down with Kate and say, “I understand that you found William’s joke offensive, but you cannot freeze him out or refuse to do work for him. Part of your job — part of everyone’s job here — is being civil to colleagues. You don’t need to like William, but you do need to be civil to him and do work for him when it’s assigned.” If she balks at that, say, “I need to be clear — there’s no flexibility on this. I cannot let you create an unpleasant environment for other people or refuse to do part of your job.”

And for the record, that’s a wild overreaction to a mild, if tasteless, joke.

Read an update to this letter

3. Hiring after a suicide

One of my direct reports recently died by suicide. We tried to get them help, but had no idea it was this bad. Of course this is breaking the hearts of everyone and our thoughts go out to their family, but it is especially hard on her closest friends who were also her coworkers and were involved in finding them. Everyone is getting trauma support but this will take time for us to work through.

It might seem cold but at some point we will need to fill their position again and I am dreading the question regarding why the position is open. Even if I didn’t mind lying (which I do mind), I believe any new employee deserves to know what they are walking into. We also have a very low staff turnover so it will be evident that a specific person is no longer working with us. How should I handle this with candidates and new employees?

You should definitely be straightforward about it with job candidates so your new hire doesn’t end up blindsided when they start. I’d say it this way: “It’s a sad answer — she died in September. It’s been hard on our office.”

You might also think about whether there are things you can do to make the situation easier on the new person and everyone else. For example, it might make sense to move where the new hire sits so that they’re not at (what people will probably still think of as) “Jane’s desk.”

4. Demotion vs. firing

About two months ago, my team hired a new manager. As the newness has worn off, it’s become clear she’s in way over her head. She hasn’t responded well to coaching and hasn’t shown the amount of improvement we would need to see in order to keep her in a manager role.

When looking at the work she’s been able to complete, she has done an okay job with work that aligns with her (would-be/should-be) direct reports. She can do the more menial tasks, clerical work, etc, even though she’s needed a lot of reminders with our online shared systems. Other leaders and I know she isn’t a good fit for this role and because we have seen such minimal improvements, we are discussing next steps. We’ve tried to find her strengths through various projects (presentations, written reports on data, updating older documents, creating proposals), and everything she submits needs a lot of editing and revising. With one assignment, we had her work with a peer. The peer, without prompting, shared that this manager was a bulldozer who didn’t want to listen to the peer’s ideas, even though the peer was correct and trying to align the project with our original stated goals and expectations!

We’re now considering termination or a demotion. I fear that a demotion could lead to festering emotions or bad morale for the rest of the team she’d join — especially as she was supposed to be their manager and will now be a coworker. Do you have any advice when weighing the two options? I’ve spoken with HR and either is a viable path.

A demotion only makes sense when you’ve seen the person has skills that would let them do well in the lower-level role and the problems aren’t likely to carry over and you have reason to believe they would handle the demotion with reasonable grace. Is any of that the case here? The bulldozer feedback alone says probably not (although it’s worth getting input from others to see if that was just a single person’s impression or if it’s shared by others). Unless you would be actively excited to hire this person into the role you’re considering demoting her into, it’s not a path I’d recommend.

Read an update to this letter. 

5. Applying to jobs if I’m not sure I want to leave my current position

When is it okay to apply to jobs when you’re not entirely sure if you want to leave your current position?

I’ve been in my job for a year and a half, and I’m not entirely sure if I want to stay at my company any longer (for several reasons, but let’s just say I think I could get something better elsewhere, and the paths to promotion/growth in my current role look slim.) Every once in awhile I’ll look at listings and think, this might be a great opportunity but I’m not sure if it’s totally the right thing for me. Part of me thinks, apply, and then see if it might be. If it is, move forward, if it’s not, drop out gracefully. What’s the harm?

So, is it okay to apply casually to jobs if you’re sort of on the fence about what you want next, and even if you don’t know if you want to leave right away?

It is 100% okay. Applying or interviewing for a job isn’t any sort of commitment that you’d take it if offered; you’re just signaling you’re open to talking and to thinking about it. Maybe you’ll learn something that makes you more interested, maybe you won’t. (I mean, I wouldn’t apply just for fun with zero intention of ever accepting a job; that’s wasting people’s time and taking interview slots from people who might really want the job. But interviewing for jobs you’re just unsure about? Totally fine.)

It’s the same way an employer interviewing you isn’t any sort of commitment to hire you. They might not even be convinced they want to hire anyone. None of this is a commitment from either side.

{ 745 comments… read them below }

  1. AcademiaNut*

    For the first letter, there’s a third possibility as well: you learn to golf, but it doesn’t help because you’re not in the sort of role that is expected to hang out with the sales people and VPs. This occurs to me because of the mention of being in a mostly female division that doesn’t interact with clients. Traditionally, the VPs and sales guys and clients might network via golf, but the secretaries wouldn’t have be welcome to join them.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      Yep, this is a VERY common way for C-suite types to “just so happen” to only surround themselves with other (affluent, white, cishet male) coworkers who share their interests. Most people don’t have the time or the money to take up an expensive hobby like golf, so the people they see as a “good culture fit for the office” tend to come from the same background that they do. This applies to other things besides golf, too, and you see it a lot in small start-ups as well as the big corporations. It’s not exclusively men, either, although in women-dominated industries it tends to come out in things like expensive shoes :-\

      There may not be much you can do, but it might be worth doing a bit of research about golf (learn the current major players’ names, teach yourself a bit about the game) so at least you don’t come off as looking down on them for liking it.

      1. Westsidestory*

        Many, MANY years ago, I interviewed Kay Koplovitz, one of the pioneers of cable television and the first woman CEO of a national network. Her advice to women seeking upward mobility was to learn “tennis or golf” so as not to be excluded from business functions ( including high profile charity events) and casual get together with other executives. She felt this especially important in companies where few women held visible senior roles. I would suggest to the OP that they learn about and follow professional golf, to stay least hold their own in a workplace conversation.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          Yep. In college, a friend of mine needed 2 elective credits to graduate and was asking about an international business course or something else. I told her to skip both and take a golf class. It worked well for her. I also recommend following sports / listening to ESPN in the mornings getting ready for work.
          I don’t love that it has to be that way in certain companies, but it is effective.

        2. Weary cigarette drag*

          My mother got this same advice as a professional in the 1970s and 1980s in a male-dominated field. Guess what, it didn’t work, because the guys weren’t passionate about sharing golf with fellow enthusiasts, it was just one more way to hang out with the boys and shoot the shit with no girls allowed.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      I may be completely wrong here because I’m not in a corporate environment but I also get the impression people I that company are expected to do more than play. Doing it sort of as a chore might still not fit in with the “every situation must be related to golf” culture.

      I’m thinking of when our school did a steps challenge. I joined in because I didn’t care one way or the other but still wasn’t really part of the enthusiastic “how many steps did you do yesterday?” conversations.

    3. geek5508*

      At Old XJob, the owner, a woman, took up golf as a way of networking to drum up business for the company. She got quite good at it, and that improved her “golf cred” around other business owners. Of course, she had the time & money to take up golf, which not evryone does

      1. Rain's Small Hands*

        And some talent for the game. I’ve been playing for years, but I would never play with a bunch of executives from work that were really into golf in anything other than a scramble in which I set the expectation of “I haven’t played much in YEARS.” I’m just not good enough to keep up. My drives are too short for a long course. And that is usually an issue for women golfers – its hard for us to keep up with the men – who are about hitting the ball long (when I golf with my husband, we end up with similar scores – my long game is horrible, but my short game is pretty good – he can reach the green in two less strokes and then can’t get it to the hole.

        Taking up golf, if you have no interest in it, and just play a few times a year for work, is not going to create someone who is going to impress a bunch of guys who golf – unless you start with some talent for it. The better suggestion to to follow professional golf enough to be able to say “did you see that putt on 16?” which is a little reading and some YouTube highlights. And which much of the world already does with football/basketball/baseball.

    4. KHB*

      Yeah – from my reading of Q1, this isn’t really about golf. This is about having upper management that’s clueless and selfish enough to take all the good perks for themselves while sneering down at the employees they see as beneath them. You’re not going to solve that by learning to golf.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I see it as a big red flag if the company can’t afford raises or to fully staff the OP’s area, but apparently can afford a golf simulator & a bar.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Agree. Learning to golf isn’t going to solve staffing issues. How will OP have time to golf if she’s working overtime?

          OP1, I’d take a hard look at the company finances. This is not a company that spends wisely for long-term stability and profit. I think you’ll need to look for another job sooner than later.

          1. Lauren*

            If OP is generally happy tho, the reality is those golfers probably are still getting promoted and raises just not telling people. If she wants to stay, she may need to pretend to want to learn golf. She can choose play the game of office politics, and look for a sponsor (VP? if they have any capital for decisions or being heard by higher ups) to help get them golf lessons or ask that the golfers go to a driving range with everyone so it includes non-golfers. Anyone who can’t physically participate can fake it by sitting on the sidelines and judging their swings with numbers. An overdramatization of participating is pathetic, but tends to work for these types of companies. They will still golf without you, but they can include you enough to not be excluded. Everyone thinks it is equal treatment (it’s not), but you will get something out of it (team player BS and raises) if you plan and host the driving range outings each month or quarter. The sponsor talks about OP helping planning and he can show how he is helping the lowly masses to his bosses. Use that guy to get what you need – visibility to be a team player for those secret raises that are definitely still happening.

            1. Weary cigarette drag*

              None of that is going to fix a company that doesn’t give raises “because inflation” while nonetheless building in a bar and buying a golf simulator.

              LW’s labor is paying for their little man cave.

        2. Antilles*

          I agree.
          From a pure fiscal perspective, you can argue that it’s not actually comparable. Google tells me that you can get some home-caliber golf simulators for around $10k to $20k installed. Let’s increase that all the way to $100k to account for the bar, remodeling, maybe a bit of electrical/plumbing work, presumably some TV’s, etc. If the company has, say, 150 people (and if their office building is big enough to fit a bar and golf simulator, it’s likely bigger than this), their salary budget is easily $10m or more, meaning that the cost of the simulator/bar would barely even work out to 1% raises.
          But boy oh boy is it a bad look to simultaneously tell people there’s no budget for raises then turn around and spend a sizable sum on a trivial thing like this.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Yeah this is the kind of thing that’s about optics. The numbers probably do work out exactly how you describe, but how a company allocates its resources communicates the company’s priorities and this is not sending a great message.

            “We can’t afford substantial raises but we could afford a nice coffee machine or [insert other comfort item the majority of staff can enjoy]” isn’t like, *ideal*, but it would be lightyears better than this.

            1. Westsidestory*

              I agree about the optics. But while looking for another job still would suggest learning about golf – it may be that this is a common denominator for execs in her particular field.

          2. Librarian of SHIELD*

            When I read this letter I immediately thought of the letter about the office where the parking lot was unsafe and the heating was unreliable but the managers thought putting a gaming system and a candy machine in the break room would solve all their morale problems and be a great recruitment tool.

            This isn’t quite as extreme as that, but it feels like it’s coming from a similar place. Rather than making sure staff are well provided for, they’re offering “perks” that will only be fun for part of the office and are more likely to serve as distractions than motivation.

            Also, my eyebrows immediately go up when companies talk about stuff like this because a lot of the time “look, we have a bar in the office” means “you don’t have to leave work, stay here and keep working, don’t go home or have a personal life.”

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              A bar (I assume one serving alcohol) in the office not only feels outdated, like Mad Men crept into this workspace, but it feels like an active liability. What are the liquor laws in the state OP works in (assuming it’s in the US?) In mine they are very, very strict and could leave the company open to all kinds of legal troubles–do they have underage interns in the workspace? Are they allowing drunk driving? Open containers outside the bar area?

              Way more trouble than it’s worth.

              1. Antilles*

                At every place I’ve ever worked, we’d have occasional parties in the office where there’s liquor available or maybe a cooler of beer or whatever and it was never an issue. It’s widely reported that a number of industries and companies advertise things like “we keep a stocked cooler of beer” or whatever on premises.

                I don’t know the actual legalities, but my guess would be that it’s a bit of a legal gray area – where the practical upshot is “nobody not even the police bother to care or enforce this rule…right up until the point where something massive goes wrong, in which case it’ll be a morass”.

              2. Silly-Con Valley*

                goddessoftransitory clearly has ne’er set foot in Silion Valley.

                There were pictures of Twitter workers doing a meet-and-greet with Elon Musk today. The venue? The company bar, of course.

          3. DJ*

            If they don’t already have WFH they should instead use the $$ to enable this to happen. Then at least there are savings on travel and takeaway food costs!
            Sounds like it’s best to look for another job. It doesn’t have to happen today, you can take the time to move into a better job!

        3. KHB*

          Exactly. My employer is doing something like this too. They’re scrimping on raises this year and dragging their heels on filling vacant positions, but we just signed a lease for a fancy new downtown office space that, as far as I can tell, will serve only as a playground for the upper management and their visitors from out of town. (We already have a very nice suburban office space, which we own, that’s sitting mostly unused because most people are working from home.) They’re pitching this new office as an “exciting opportunity” for the organization, but the benefit to most of us will be precisely diddly-squat.

        4. The OTHER other*

          Funny how raises are impossible due to inflation, but the same inflation doesn’t keep them from buying a golf simulator, bar, and presumably alcohol. Having a bar at work is weird, I thought this went out with Mad Men. Hello, liability for drunk driving!

        5. morethantired*

          I have worked places where they did things like this because it “makes them look cool to clients.” It creates the image of a cool office where everyone hangs out and has fun. They can justify it as making the company more competitive. It’s sad because clients often buy into this, having no clue how miserable the employees actually are.

        6. Hannah Lee*

          Yeah, the C-suite at the company is definitely giving off “My “business “running a bar is just an excuse for me and my buddies to get together and drink, on the company dime, and call it a job.” vibes. Only with buckets of money, privilege and maybe some some bias.

          That, combined with the poor judgement of spending capital on a golf simulator and bar, combined with “too bad, so sad, no CoL or merit increases for anyone, plus we’re going to run lean and mean which means more work for everyone who isn’t us!” makes me wonder about the LT viability of this company. Management is pouring money into things that aren’t likely to improve revenue or profits, while stiffing people who are doing the nuts and bolts work that allows the company to function beyond high-flying sales reps/execs who schmooze.

          If it’s an okay job that pays well enough and LW doesn’t mind the work, that might be one thing.

          But – golf aside – the visibly bad judgement and shamelessly self-serving behavior of the C Suite … at the expense of their employees’ well being and maybe the company’s ability to succeed, thrive going forward, are clanging some gongs that LW might want to start looking for a new job at some other company.

          And, as I learned once working for a large tech company headed by a father-son duo of sexist, racist, bullying obnoxious glassbowls, who hired (mostly white, cishet, sports loving, sports playing almost all male) managers who aspired to be just as obnoxious, sometimes there is no “win” for normal people in those environments and the cost of sticking around is high.

          A) even if I tried to fit in by mirroring their attitudes, values, interests, I was a short, sports-non-loving nerdy woman (who for some odd reason is also a natural on the golf course – powerful when needed and precise on the green, even though I rarely played) … they were never going to grant me the same privileges, respect, access, advancement or compensation that ‘their guys’ were given.

          B) seeing the way those execs, managers operated, the unfair decision making, the outright cruelty, the icky values on display all day, every day, wasn’t good for my mental, emotional, spiritual or physical health. It was incredibly stressful to know there wasn’t anything to do to change it … for a time I managed my little pocket within it, buffering my direct reports from the worst of it. But that absolutely took a toll, as did watching co-workers I’d liked, respected decide to throw-in, morph into jerks to try to fit in and advance. At the end of the day, I didn’t WANT to be more like these people; their values were diametrically opposed to mine in many ways. It’s one thing to have a job you don’t love, or work with people you’re not best friends with. But it was another working someplace where the culture from the top was so shallow and nasty and frustrating. At a certain point, I couldn’t fake-ignore it or tolerate it, and left for a different job where I’m much happier.

          LW, if you’re in a place that’s taking a toll like that, think about the cost of staying – not just financially due to the lack of raises, but emotionally, physically and the opportunity costs of not being somewhere else that doesn’t have those downsides.

        7. goddessoftransitory*

          Agreed. When you “can’t” pay merit raises but can install expensive toys and a bar? You can pay merit raises. To yourselves.

      2. lilsheba*

        I agree. This whole thing revolving around golf is the most ridiculous and shallow thing ever. It’s very white male privileged junk that I would never have any interest in, and can’t even fake interest in. I wouldn’t bother with it.

    5. hbc*

      I think this is most likely. The people who participate in the work-golf culture are almost exclusively the networking- and relationship-heavy jobs. They actually can get work done on the course, and they almost always spend time on weekends or evenings doing work stuff (meeting clients for dinner, traveling, etc.)*. Lots of other positions just aren’t suited for that, and the most you’ll get from taking up golf is a little bit of cred when you can join in a golf conversation.

      *We can debate how much of the workday they burn on golf versus how much they actually work after hours, of course.

      1. irianamistifi*

        Very true! My mom is an outgoing extravert who was incredibly career-focused (she’s retired now). When she first made it to the C-suite, she took up golf because she realized that a lot of networking and high-level discussions were happening in places that she wasn’t normally expected to show up.

        So she showed up. She made herself impossible to ignore or exclude. But that meant she was ‘working’ for more hours. It was not uncommon for her to spend Sunday golfing with Execs and then come home and hop on the phone in the evening with her teams in India for their Monday morning calls.

        But it DID impact her career. She was promoted often. She was constantly exposed to new parts of the business and new clients who wanted to work with her or hire her away from her current employer.

        My mom has some SUPER WEIRD ideas about the job market and fair market rate for wages (I’m a mid-level project manager and my mom said I should be charging $300/hr LOL), but when it comes to networking and moving up in an org, I trust her judgement completely.

        1. Sloanicota*

          This is also going to work better for people who are reasonably likely to be good at golf. Unfortunately I’ve seen some people who are gamely trying to be part of an activity, but are pretty bad at it / extremely new and it can actually almost hurt them to be visibly bad at something important to the big brass (asking really basic questions, flubbing easy shots in full view while people roll their eyes etc). Tougher styles of leadership are rough on what they view as “losers” in any sphere. Personally, I’d be better off being excluded than underperforming.

          1. Lauren*

            But so many love to make fun and then be the hero to teach. A driving range is not a round of golf that requires strength to hit far as well as aim and can be twisted in their favor as a team activity everyone can mostly deal with with non-golfers over doing it with judging swings on the sidelines. Get some small white boards and maybe someone will MC like an announcer who has no problem making fun of the CEO too.

        2. BatManDan*

          I’m moderately good at my field of expertise, and I bill $300-$500/hour, so she may not be off by much.

        3. Silly-Con Valley*

          Shockingly, people who put in extra hours tend to get promoted before those who do the bare minimum.

    6. Up and Away*

      This is a sore spot for me as well. Our owner belongs to a “male only” golf club where a lot of business happens. He sees nothing wrong with it, despite my NUMEROUS attempts at trying to get him to understand how utterly wrong this is. Woman are allowed to work in the kitchen though…go figure.

    7. still salty*

      I used to work in an office with a golf league, and tournaments, and much discussion of all things golf. My team grew and had some turnover, so I got to introduce new hires to various stakeholders a couple times a year. Without fail, only the men were asked to join the office league before they were even asked if they played golf at all. If I, a woman who plays golf, took advantage of that opening to ask to join I was told that they didn’t know who organized things, or it was full, or I wouldn’t like it, or I would need my own clubs…

      It was a fairly democratic mix of men, from hourly employees to senior directors drawn mostly from engineering, production, and supply chain. But, with very few and shortlived exceptions, it was a mix of men.

    8. Girasol*

      “Learn to golf” didn’t help a coworker of mine who got sick of the fact that we women had to pick up the slack while the men were out golfing on company time, and then put up with their eye-rolling when the stupid women never knew what was going on in the department because the men were getting updates on the course. Unlike the OP, she and I were peers to the guys, so “learn to golf” made sense, and she did. But they made it clear that she was not welcome. It’s my impression that golfing is a thinly veiled technique for hiding blatant office sexism. There’s a reason that country clubs are “exclusive:” they’re intended to exclude someone.

    9. emmelemm*

      I wouldn’t want to try to learn to golf because I’d likely be terrible at it, and then that would be embarrassing if one *was* ever invited on some sort of golf outing. I might like, learn about the major players at the top of the sport right now or something so I could talk “a little bit” about golf if need be.

  2. Douglas Mosier*

    King Charles “joke”: Not only is it not “mild” but it’s utter falsehood. He’s had a job for 50+ years: the CEO of this little corporation called “the Duchy of Cornwall” with land holdings of 135,000 acres to manage. Anyone who thinks he has been sitting around on his arse is just showing their utter ignorance about the Royal Family and what they do.

      1. LobsterPhone*

        I’m also confused as to why it’s ‘hurtful’. It wasn’t a joke about her interest in the Royal Family.

        1. allathian*

          Absolutely. Some people are extreme royalists to the point that they take offence at any perceived criticism of the Royals.

          1. Emily*

            Yes, Kate taking offense is especially odd because they’re in the US, not the UK (though as soon as I saw the title of the letter I thought it would be even funnier if it was the US, not the UK). Frankly, I think it’s pretty generous of her work to allow her to stream royal weddings/funerals while she’s at work. Kate definitely needs an attitude adjustment about how she is treating William.

            1. bamcheeks*

              I would be *amazed* if this could happen in the UK. Even if you were an ardent royalist, you’d be used to the fact that many of the people around you weren’t and that you couldn’t possibly impose a “must respect the monarchy” rule on people around you.

              1. Phryne*

                I follow a lot of Brits on twitter and I would say this *incredibly* mild compared to how the average (non-royalist) Brit talks about the royals.
                I live in a Kingdom myself, and joking about the royals is completely normal and you would be considered a fairy obsessed nutter to react like this to a very mild ribbing of them.
                Kate’s reaction would not be acceptable if someone joked about her favourite band, and it is not acceptable here.

                1. Richard Hershberger*

                  Then there is the Irish Times’s take on the monarchy. Look it up, if you have not seen it. Include “clowns” in your Google search.

                2. londonedit*

                  Even my (reasonably royalist) mother is scathing about the members of the Royal Family she doesn’t like. The idea that in the UK there would be some sort of ‘you mustn’t insult the Royals’ rule is utterly laughable.

                3. Sassenach*

                  thank you Richard Hershberger. I looked up the Irish Times and am loving every word. Settling in for a long day of entertaining reading.

                4. kilo*

                  Yeah. I am British, and that joke was very very mild compared to others I’ve heard (although I thought it was quite funny). I suspect there’s also a cultural difference in our humour though. I was also struck by the streaming royal events – that would not fly in any workplace I’ve been in.

                5. Beany*

                  That Irish Times column by Patrick Freyne is very amusing, but it’s not exactly the official newspaper policy on the UK Royal Family, any more than Alexandra Petri’s articles are Washington Post editorials.

              2. Paul Pearson*

                Speaking as a British person and a British office- oh we have said so much worse and MUCH less tasteful jokes than this one. I’m not saying the massive royalists don’t exist but they’re not the majority.

                1. Philip*

                  From my watching of British shows like Have I Got News For You, I’ve learned that the best response to an inappropriate, unpopular joke about the royals is “Well, Prince Philip would have approved”. He was known for making inappropriate jokes, and referencing that fact tends to get everyone laughing again.

                  Kate’s reaction is more about her than about an insult to the royal family, because I agree that this would be a minor comment in the UK or any workplace.

              3. TrixM*

                Yeah, the vast majority of Brits would laugh at her fervour, even more so because she’s an American.

                The uber-royalists would probably have the same reaction as the first comment to this thread, but I doubt they’d express it that way in the office, unless they were the boss or among fellow-travellers.

                1. Paul Pearson*

                  Honestly there’s a certain kind of American Anglophile that is More Than a Little Creepy… it’s like finding our a vague acquaintance is REALLY INTO YOU and has started taking photos of you without you knowing

            2. Richard Hershberger*

              There is an American type that enjoys the spectacle of the monarchy and likely is a little too into Disney princess tropes, or if a little more upscale, BBC period dramas. And being American, can pick the choose which aspects of the monarchy to experience. Kate seems an extreme example, but being to some extant “into” the royal family is pretty common over here.

              1. Sylvan*


                I don’t know if it’s common, but I’ve met people who treat the royal family like a sports team, almost? IDGI, they are useless people and they don’t even belong to our country. We have our own, homegrown useless people!

                1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  Great comparison, they definitely talk about the royal family the same way my husband is talking about the Patriots’ quarterback drama right now.

                  People can enjoy what they want, I don’t mind people who enjoy the spectacle and the pomp but to take it SO seriously that a very mild, common joke (seriously this isn’t even an original joke everyone is making it) rocks your world this much is…intense.

                2. Librarian of SHIELD*

                  Yeah. I tend to talk about the royal family in the same way some people talk about The Bachelor or Real Housewives, but I don’t take anybody else talking about them personally, because Gondor has no king, and this is not my circus.

              2. morethantired*

                It’s funny how all these shows and movies like The Crown try to expose how miserable and restrictive the monarchy is for everyone who is in it, but so many Americans watch it and come away thinking “oh! so romantic and glamorous!” They’ve created their own modern-day fairytale.

                1. penny dreadful analyzer*

                  Glamorizing/romanticizing being miserable and restrictive is one of the foundational elements of American culture, so it’s really not that surprising

                  (I blame the Puritans, except when I catch myself doing it, in which case I blame being raised Catholic)

              3. Elsewhere1010*

                Some Americans are the Disney Princess trope type, others feel that royals are living dress-up dollies. I really can’t understand either type.

              4. AcademiaNut*

                Thanks for the explanation. I was trying to figure out how someone could be hideously offended by a very, very mild jokes about the British royal family while being on the internet in 2022. American Royals fan who doesn’t interact with international media would explain a lot.

            3. Reality.Bites*

              The UK (and Canada, probably Australia and New Zealand as well) have long mocked the Royals quite savagely in their mainstream humour, the kind you see on popular BBC shows. Here in Canada, a week after Diana’s death, the CBC depicted the Queen making a mental note to buy stock in FTD Florists and sick the paparazzi on Fergie.

              As a Canadian, I’m often amused at how deferential Americans are towards the monarchy. It’s a sentiment they really don’t share with the monarchy’s actual “subjects.”

              1. UKDancer*

                Yes. The Queen and the Royal Family were mocked on Spitting Image (satirical puppet show from the 1980s which was recently revived) years ago and that’s still a thing. It’s not a new thing to make jokes about them, we did it in Georgian cartoons, on radio, on TV and via meme and social media over the centuries. We’ve done it since they stopped executing people for laughing at them.

                I think the idea is that they’re richer, more influential and privileged than most of us will ever be so we should at least be able to laugh at them.

              2. Carbon Dale*

                I think the fact that Americans are not the monarchy’s actual subjects is the reason why Americans tend to be deferential. To most Americans, they are just celebrities who have no impact on our life. The antiquated tradition of it all is pretty fascinating. Just like other celebrity fandoms, some people are over the top with their para-social relationship with them.

                1. A. Tiskit & A. Taskit LLC*

                  And of course, the fairy tales we grew up with all feature kings, queens, princesses and princes – NOT presidents, vice-presidents, senators and congress members! So we in American are used to a highly romanticized vision of royals and nobles, all of whom we love in fantasy stories and none of whom we want to actually have here; one of the worst insults you can hurl at an American president is “He acts as if he thinks he’s a king!”

                  But the key point is that this employee is doing her job poorly and is picking and choosing which employees she will treat professionally. That’s not acceptable for ANY reason and Alison is right: the LW should slam down the lid on her behavior. This is not “Bartleby the Scrivener”!

              3. TeaCoziesRUs*

                I am a huge fan of the British Royals, particularly the Californian branch. I was in the screaming hordes for both William and Harry’s weddings. Although I’m not a HUGE fan of Charles, I’m strongly considering attending the coronation – mostly because my hunch is he will be the last king of the Commonwealth crowned, although perhaps not the last King of England. I am a crazy American. That being said, we can enjoy the popcorn, the drama, the “We don’t talk about Andy, who was good friends with a r****ist pedophile” contortions of the Rota. That being said, we in the US don’t have to worry about the monarchy humiliating us anymore. We can enjoy every excruciating moment of the Cambridges’ Caribbean Flop Tour without feeling it puts our country in a bad light. I enjoy them while they last, but I won’t be surprised when the Commonwealth countries decide they don’t want to play anymore and push the eject buttons. That being said, the coworker’s joke was tame in compared to some of my favorite royals sites linked below. She needs to get over it… and fast.

        2. Asenath*

          It’s not just the royals. Making silly (and in this case incorrect) jokes about public figures always seems a bit off and unfair to me, who has very little interest in public figures in general, and someone with a passionate interest in a sports or Hollywood person would probably react similarly. Kate did over-react – it’s necessary in public spaces (or semi-public places, like a workplace) to let a lot of things go, even if you speak up in the moment – but it doesn’t surprise me that Kate did have that reaction. It speaks more to a fascination with fame than anything else.

          1. JM60*

            If anything, I think it’s more appropriate to joke about public figures than it is to joke about others.

            1. Allonge*

              Totally agree. Public figures, especially ones whose fame comes from something they lucked into and not their work, are by and large reasonable targets.

              I have to say I am not certain why the joke was hurtful either, but that may be a matter of taste / level of investment. Obviously Kate is entitled to ask, politely, that people should not joke with this topic around her!

              1. Rose*

                Eh, I don’t think those that “lucked into” fame are more “deserving” to be targets than those who worked for it; if anything, I’d cut them more slack because they didn’t necessarily CHOOSE that path. That said – I think with fame (regardless of how it was achieved) comes a certain expectation that you might/probably will be subject to ridicule at some point (the extent to which obviously varies depending on the person)

              2. Ellie*

                The joke was made at my work too, several times, I’m not a royal fan, but I didn’t like it. I know he’s famous but he’s still a bloke who’s just lost his mother, and by all accounts he’s a hard worker. Kate’s reaction is over the top but its still a mean thing to say.

            2. Asenath*

              I don’t agree. They’re still human beings, and a lot of the problems associated with taking them too seriously because they’re famous would be lessened if they were thought of as human beings.

              1. Good+Enough+For+Government+Work*

                As a Brit: the Royals are getting paid a lot of our money to look pretty, take a lot of expensive holidays, and cut some ribbons.

                They can deal with the rest of us occasionally taking the p*ss.

          2. L-squared*

            I totally disagree. I’m a huge sports fan. I can’t imagine someone making a joke about a team or player that I like, and then completely freezing them out over it. Its not even a joke toward me. Why would I care that much?

            1. I am Emily's failing memory*

              For real. I was a huge Hanson fan for over a decade – huge like, followed them around the country on tour, slept on sidewalks, took time off work to go to exclusive fan club events. If I had freezed out everyone who made fun of them a single time I wouldn’t have been on speaking terms with many people. I just rolled my eyes, gave a good natured “ha, ha,” and let the conversation move on.

            2. londonedit*

              In Britain, if you can’t take a joke about your football team then you have no business living in this country. Football fans LIVE for insulting other teams/players/fans. The only exception I would make would be if someone made a joke about something like the Munich air disaster or Hillsborough, because that would be in disgustingly poor taste no matter who you are or which team you support. General football-related ribbing, some of which can get extremely close to the mark? Not a problem and certainly not something anyone would stop speaking to a colleague over.

              1. workswitholdstuff*

                Add in the Bradford stadium Fire as another completely off the table, and I agree – there’s about 3 thing relating to football you don’t joke about…

                But otherwise, yes, footy teams are there to be insulted…

              2. whingedrinking*

                I was once hanging out with a bunch of people from Northern Ireland when we ran into another Canadian. Our conversation went something like:
                “Where ya from?”
                “Vancouver! Buncha hippies.”
                “Yeah, well, what about you?”
                “Oh, Traaaawna.”
                “Oh yeah? How many times have the Canucks ever taken the Cup? That’s right, never.”
                “Oh yeah?! The Leafs have barely sniffed it since the Original Six!”
                At this point my companions were starting to look like they might have to pry us off each other…and we burst out laughing, hugged each other, and swapped socials.
                If Canadians can joke about hockey, Americans can deal with the occasional jab at the royals.

            3. Eldritch Office Worker*

              As a thirty year old American football fan in New England if I got this bent out of shape everytime someone made a Tom Brady/Bill Belichick/Robert Kraft joke (or a general New England Sports Fans are Annoying joke) I’d never leave my house.

                1. Kit*

                  Fly, Eagles, fly…

                  I actually don’t have much interest in football, except as a way to avoid certain discussions at family holiday parties, but at least that means you too get to see the news stories about Philadelphians ‘celebrating’ after major wins. (Mayor Nutter’s line about how one can be joyous without being a jackass always springs to mind.)

                  For non-locals, btw, Philly residents are riotous at the best of times; in an effort to prevent them climbing lampposts, the city’s taken to greasing the poles. Philadelphians, naturally, see this as a challenge, and say “hold my beer.”

            4. Irish Teacher*

              Yeah, I was thinking about this historical figure I’m a massive admirer of, de Valera. Apparently when he died in the 1970s, there were a number of jokes about the fact he died in August and “isn’t that just typical of him, to go and die in the summer holidays so the schoolkids don’t even get a day off for it!” This joke doesn’t sound any more offensive than that and…that doesn’t bother me in the least. It WAS typical of him. He himself, if he could respond, would probably have made some comment about how he was an ex-school teacher so he was hardly going to disrupt education!

              Plus, like Queen Elizabeth, he was in his 90s when he died. I’d be more uncomfortable with jokes about the death of a young person who died tragically, but massively successful people who died in their 90s after maintaining a public profile and seeming pretty healthy almost right to the end…that seems like less of an issue, at least when they are fairly harmless jokes like ones about the date of the death or how long it took King Charles to get to the throne.

              1. londonedit*

                There were loads of pithy comments made when Prince Philip died, because he specifically requested no state funeral and therefore we didn’t get an extra day off. We just take the piss out of this stuff in Britain (these days it’s mainly a ‘you’ve got to laugh…’ mentality!)

                1. workswitholdstuff*

                  I was joking that the Queen timed it so her funeral (and therefore bank holiday) was whilst I was already booked to be on holiday which was a bit unsporting!

                  In reality just gave me an enforced ‘quiet day’ during that week, which actually was no bad thing. The weather was grey and dull anyway where I was so didn’t loose out on much!)

                  (And I got the day back in my leave entitlement, so thank you Ma’am.)

                  Honestly, I don’t understand why people get so het up under the collar about it all – esp when they’re not even in the UK!

            5. MurpMaureep*

              I’m a massive fan of a certain college football team with two famous rivals (one in state, one out of state). I interact, work with, an am related to people who are fans of said rivals. If I took any of the trash talk seriously – much of which is WAY worse than the mild joke about King Charles – I wouldn’t be able to hold a job in my state or have meaningful relationships with parts of my family!

            6. Hannah Lee*

              Yeah, the freezing someone out for a joke like that is something I might have seen in middle school
              ‘Debbie made fun of The Bay City Rollers’
              ‘That’s it Debbie, you can’t sit with us on the bus any more!!!’

              How old is Kate, and why does she think she gets to boycott parts of her job?

          3. yala*

            It’s not even really “incorrect.” It’s just facetious. It’s a goof.

            (Also, just saying someone’s the CEO of a whole place because of hereditary titles just feels…so weird.)

            1. Goldie*

              Yeah… if the first commenter actually thinks Charles was doing work for this “job”… I’ve got a bridge to sell them.

              1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                Well, he did do work in that he represented the royal family at events and charities and was a working member of the royal family, like Harry and Megan were until they stepped down. But not anything like what normal people have to do in order to make far less money!

          4. Observer*

            Making silly (and in this case incorrect) jokes about public figures always seems a bit off and unfair to me

            That’s a fairly reasonable take. But it does NOT have any logical connection to how Kate is reacting. I don’t believe that any reasonable adult would react similarly to Kate, regardless of the target.

            1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

              I honestly think silly and even incorrect jokes about public figures is to be expected and far less problematic than silly and incorrect jokes about normal people. I am not about spreading misinformation, but jokes are jokes and most people ought to know to take them with a grain of salt when it comes to the accuracy. Unless there is some other grounds to find the joke offensive, it being silly and inaccurate is just not a good reason to be offended.

              But yeah, even if it was offensive, Kate’s reaction is way over the top. I mean, if it was genuinely offensive she could talk to her other bosses, HR, request assistance in figuring out how to do her job effectively while minimizing contact with William, all the other steps one might take when a coworker has genuinely crossed the line. But she cannot just freeze him out and stop talking to him or doing parts of her job, not even if she had tried any of the above. It is extremely immature.

              Also, her obsession with the royal family is not at all normal.

            2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              Oh please, when you’re no longer allowed to mock public figures, that’s the end of free speech and the beginning of dictatorship. I don’t mean hate speech, and obviously there’s a very thin line between the two, but gentle mockery like this joke is really nothing to get het up about.

        3. HoHumDrum*

          Yeah, I also don’t understand how that was an upsetting joke, but then a lot of my coworkers are from formerly British colonies…let’s just say if Kate thought William’s joke was offensive she definitely wouldn’t have wanted to be around my work that day…

          1. yala*

            Yeah, that was my first thought. A reaction that strong to a little goof makes me morbidly curious what her response would be if she saw any of what, say, Irish Twitter was saying at the time.

          2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            Kate is American, apparently. We Americans are also from a former British colony, although former by a larger margin than the homes of the coworkers to whom you refer. I mean, I enjoy the clothes and royal weddings and little Charlotte in her grandmother’s pin and all that, but why are so many Americans this enthralled with royalty? We fought two wars to get away from royalty for crying out loud! LOL

      2. lilsheba*

        Maybe but the jerk who made the initial bad taste joke needs to own up to it and apologize sincerely. Those jokes offended me too, there is no need for them.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          As someone who feels the monarchy lives off the backs of the citizens (and even non-citizens), I personally think there is plenty need for jokes about them, but this is also so mild it barely even warrants a reaction. If anything, Kate needs to apologize for behaving so unprofessionally.

          1. Van Wilder*

            I’m really struggling to understand how this joke was offensive. And I don’t want to be a jerk. But ok, someone joked that a public figure didn’t have a job when in fact he did? So? Isn’t that the joke part?
            Or is it because it’s insensitive about the Queen’s death?
            I personally meant it to mean like “oh look a 73-year-old is still hireable.” But that seems not to be the way most people are taking it, which is maybe why I still don’t get the hurtful part.

        2. Good+Enough+For+Government+Work*

          There’s plenty of need for them. Unthinking/unconditional obsequiousness to a bunch of filthy rich hereditary monarchs is not a good thing…

        3. Moira Rose's Closet*

          I would never apologize to a coworker for making a mild dad joke (which was, by the way, a very popular meme for several days) about an instrument of colonization. The joke had nothing to do with anyone’s gender, race, religion, or anything of the sort.

          Kate may not like it, and she may be offended, but it’s on her to manage her own emotions about that. She’s an adult.

        4. Anonymoose*

          If these jokes offended you, you really need to take a self reflective look. There is nothing offensive about these jokes

        5. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Then you are being a little overly sensitive too. I mean, unless you are Camilla in disguise, I do not see why you would be offended. Honestly, even Camilla wouldn’t be offended, because that’s nothing to the things they have heard said about them.

          1. UKDancer*

            Camilla strikes me as someone incredibly sensible and down to earth and not that sensitive which is why young Charles liked her. Allegedly her opening remark to Charles was something like “my great-grandmother was your great-grandfather’s mistress. So how about it?”

            So I doubt she’d be particularly offended.

        6. Darsynia*

          If you say so—but their job and their future there shouldn’t be at risk, which is what the letter was about.

        7. TrixM*

          I have to wonder, are you British? Because this would not register on the scale of “bad taste” jokes there. ”Moderately annoying” for a rabid monarchist/Chaz stan, at best, I’d say.

          It might venture into the shallows of bad taste if it were at the expense of the late Queen, but still, mild

        8. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Well we can’t stop you from being offended but yes there is a very real need for such jokes, they smooth things over and help the Brits to tolerate the royal family.
          If you start censoring jokes about the royals, the Brits will start changing their minds about having a royal family. These are people who are literally only rich and famous for being born, or marrying someone who was born, and I fail to see why they should be treated with any more respect than street beggars.

    1. LB*

      It’s extremely benign, gentle humor. It’s not like it was a morbid themed joke about Elizabeth’s death.

      There have been a lot of more caustic jokes online due to anti-colonialist saltiness, but this isn’t that. You can enjoy paying attention to the royals without stanning them to the extent of overreacting to the gentlest of nudges about their privilege.

      1. WeeLesbian*

        Yeah I read a joke about how they were going to bury the queen with her corgis. That’s a bit darker and not a joke I would make at work.

        The “73 year old man is finally getting a job” joke reads to me as a typical middle aged white guy office joke. Like the type of guy who says “nice of you to join us today” when you come in after a day off. It’s not offensive just annoying

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            It really isn’t. It’s just a joke about how long Prince Charles has been waiting to be king.

              1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                LOL, thanks for catching that! It just is so often that we see a really unreasonable person called Jane here for some reason!

          2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            Actually, I am now wondering if you are reading something into the joke that wasn’t there. Can you explain why you think it is so “offensive”?

            1. lilsheba*

              I don’t have to explain myself, I just find all the jokes about the queen and king that were made after death offensive, and that’s it. I wouldn’t ignore work that needs to be done, but I don’t have to just accept that kind of commenting from anyone either.

              1. nnn*

                OK but coming to a discussion group and writing only ‘nah it’s pretty offensive and rude’ and then refusing to explain why isn’t really in the spirit of….discussing.

              2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                I was asking because I wondered if I was missing something, not because I was telling you that you need to explain yourself. And I understand perhaps jokes about the queen might be a bit offensive right after she died (although not on the level you and Kate are going on about), but the king is alive and the joke was about him. Honestly, light humor is often really helpful to people in times of grief, but more importantly, no one in that office, including Kate, has ever met these people, and presumably neither have you.

                1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

                  This kind of unreasonable hostility is not uncommon for that particular commenter. I don’t think you were ever going to get a logical response. It’s definitely not a you-problem!

            1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

              Especially since lilsheba now says that she thinks that “all the jokes about the queen and king that were made after death offensive.” I mean, I could understand that if a rude joke was made about the queen right after her death (though I still don’t think it warrants the level of offense Kate or lilsheba are exhibiting unless they intimately knew her and the people making that joke were aware of that fact), but this joke was about Charles, who is not dead and had not just died. And if his parents are anything to go by, even if he is 73, he will have a good long run before we need to worry (or at least I hope so)!

          3. Good+Enough+For+Government+Work*

            It categorically is not. It’s not within a million miles of some of the jokes about the Royals that get aired on the actual BBC, for Heaven’s sake!

          4. WeeLesbian*

            In college I took this philosophy class where we read a paper that argued that it is immoral to be a picky eater and basically called picky eaters in first world countries spoiled babies. This cis het white dude in my class who was a picky eater (like 21 years old and only ate chicken fingers) called it the most offensive thing he has ever read. It was a real eye opener to me because I grew up being called slurs and also being told to toughen up and I was too sensitive. That’s when I realized that people with privilege have no idea what it’s like to actually be offended and are super sensitive because of that when it comes down to it.

            Anyway your comment reminds me of that.

            1. Becca*

              Umm what? Most offensive thing he’s read is an overreaction as it’s not nearly on the level of slurs or denying people rights, but calling picky eaters immoral spoiled babies actually is pretty offensive and it’s not being too sensitive or finding offense where there is none to comment on that. Especially since if he’s so picky as to be eating only chicken fingers it’s very likely that he has sensory issues with food (texture being the one that stands out, but also the more usual taste, smell, temperature, etc) possibly connected to something like autism.
              It’s also not uncommon for people to claim those with allergies or intolerances are just spoiled picky eaters, though perhaps said paper wasn’t going that far (either way it’s another reason labeling people “picky eaters” as if they could just suck it up and like the things is pretty loaded).
              Gah, sorry. This is off topic and an old post but that was driving me crazy.

        1. Zephy*

          In fairness, most if not all of the Queen’s corgis are dead at this point, it’s not like they would be Cask-of-Amontillado-ing a bunch of living dogs into the Royal Vault.

          Someone in this very comment section made the “man waits 73 years for a promotion” joke back around the time she passed. It wasn’t uproariously funny, but also not, you know, shockingly offensive. And also, I’m fairly certain King Charles doesn’t know or care about either this comment section or LW2’s coworker an ocean away making jokes at his expense.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            Sadly, I’ve got enough royal news in my feed to know that you’re right. Most of her corgis are dead.

            In fact, about 10 years ago she declared that while she’d keep the corgis she had, she no longer wanted to get any new ones… when she got to a certain age, she didn’t want any more young dogs; she didn’t want to leave any young dogs behind when she passed. That didn’t stop Andrew from surprising her with 2 puppies last year.

      2. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        Right? When I saw the problem was about a King Charlie joke, I immediately thought it was going to be along the lines of the fake (and hilarious because it’s not inaccurate) obituary I saw on Twitter: “She was a queen, a mother, and, most importantly, a loving wife to her cousin.” Making a joke that an elderly man got a job in a global society where you’re generally considered “used up” after 30? Making a joke that people have been making for decades about Charles having to wait so long for his “main job” to come open for him? It’s not insulting to him at all. It’s tasteless because a man’s mother had to die for him to “get the job,” but it’s not exactly offensive, and there’s no indication it was meant as a personal dig. And gee, I wonder how much Kate clutches her pearls when someone rightfully talks crap about Prince Andrew….

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          ‘It’s tasteless because a man’s mother had to die for him to “get the job,”’

          It’s the whole setup that’s totally tasteless, not to mention ridiculously unfair and classist and all that.

      3. mlem*

        Could this have been a “last straw” situation for Kate? Certain corners of the internet took a very, VERY aggressive stance along the lines of “we’re all morally obligated to mock every member of the royalty, and if you dare think a particular joke is tasteless or over the line, we will hound you to the ends of the earth”. If she was already distressed by that, one more joke (of any nature) might have made her snap.

        Still not suitable at work, of course; I just wonder if it wasn’t really about this one specific comment.

        1. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

          How would anyone know what someone thought if they didn’t make a point of saying it? By which I mean, from what I saw on the fair Internets, someone who got “hounded to the ends of the earth” (aka disagreed with) for “thinking” such jokes were in bad taste probably said so pretty stridently, likely with a side of “you should thank the British for civilizing you” to people from former and current colonies.

        2. RagingADHD*

          The solution for that would be for Kate to step away from the Internet and find something more positive and constructive to do with her time (especially at work.)

    2. Zoinks*

      I too did a double take when reading that this joke was “mild.” (1) It was insulting to the Queen. (2) It was ageist and suggests that the organization engages in age discrimination.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        I actually read it as a pointed commentary ABOUT age discrimination. As in, King Charles got the job despite being 73.

        Frankly, it’s a point that needs to be made – ie. that age discrimination exists, is wrong, and shouldn’t be tolerated – any more than other types of illegal discrimination.

        I think the OP’s coworker is a bit of a wingnut for taking offense.

        1. SuperAdmin*

          That’s how I read it as well. As in ‘normally a man his age can’t get hired because ageism’. Completely inoffensive.

          Also, as a Brit, little digs at our leaders is what we do as a nation (even my Royalist husband was cracking jokes about the Queen dying to avoid Liz Truss again, or about Charles finally getting to the throne). It feels incredibly bizarre that someone would take an offhand remark about someone they don’t know (an incredibly privileged person they don’t know) and overreact so badly.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            Or Liz Truss got in, and killed the Queen to avoid having to talk to press about her shit show…

            Or her maj was just hanging on to see the back of Johnson!

            1. workswitholdstuff*

              I mean, *I* made the joke about the Queen waiting just long enough to avoid a Johnson Eulogy – and pretty sure I wasn’t the only one. There were a lot of Truss/Johnson related jokes flying about that week.

              (I mean he tried to shoe-horn his eulogy into his response, but he didn’t get to give the one on TV…. Lots of ‘shouldabeen me jokes/sharing of the song on SM if I recall that week rightly)

          2. Double blankie*

            Yep can’t imagine any British person reacting like that – even if they love the royal family they’d have heard a lot worse!

          3. londonedit*

            Yep, baffled because most British people have made/seen/heard more jokes about the Royal Family in the last month and a half than probably at any other time in history. See: King Charles and the pen. Personally I love the idea that Her Maj took one look at Liz Truss and noped right out of there.

          4. London Calling*

            Yeah, couldn’t get worked up about it and I’m generally pro a monarchy. Latest joke is that Charles is going to pass his mother’s record for the number of prime ministers during her reign. He’s already on number 2 and we’re but two months into the reign.

            1. londonedit*

              I mean, this is the country where a national tabloid newspaper set up a competition to see which one lasted longest, Liz Truss or a lettuce – spoiler, the lettuce won. And then they staged photos of the lettuce having a party. If there’s one thing Brits (and British companies – see pretty much any of the major retailers’ Twitter accounts over the last couple of weeks) excel at, it’s laughing at ourselves, anyone in power, and the general state of the country.

            2. EvilQueenRegina*

              Even Kate probably couldn’t object to that one, considering that’s more a joke against the government than King Charles.

          5. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            Honestly, in the US, our current president and the one before him were both elected in their 70s. Apparently, men that age get hired first a lot if it is a high level political position, lol! And honestly, at this point, the monarch is not a high level political position.

        2. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          Yes, that’s also I how I read the joke.

          Age discrimination is the “butt” of the joke more so than King Charles.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I didn’t see it as age discrimination but as more comparing him to a layabout who’s finally getting a job. And look how long it took!

            1. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

              Yeah, that makes sense as well. But I deffo don’t see the interpretation that it implies OP’s organisation is ageist.

            2. Siege*

              If he’d had any gumption, he would have been turning in his resume at palaces around the world. How are you going to get a job if you don’t pound the pavement??

            3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

              That’s how I read it too! And I agree it is inaccurate in that he did work as a working member and representative of the royal family, but that is hardly “work” as most people see it, and jokes are jokes and should be taken with a grain of salt as to accuracy.

      2. Not Australian*

        IMHO the point is that *knowing it isn’t true* is what makes it funny; it’s generally a mistake to take this sort of thing too seriously.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Yes! Jokes and jokes and most people know to take them with a grain of salt when it comes to factual accuracy!

      3. MK*

        No, it was a silly joke about the serious fact that the heir to a royal title is basically expected to wait around for decades in expectation of inheriting. Seriously, age discrimination?

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          Depending on how you read the inflection, I think it could be. It’s really and truly is how I read it.

          But I also don’t care about the Royal Family one way or the other, so I wasn’t automatically reading malice into it.

        2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I can see that too, but I also think it was more about calling Charles lazy and privileged. And the joke may be inaccurate about the lazy part, but it is just a joke. There is no question that he is privileged!

      4. Pennyworth*

        Come on – it was a meme going around after the Queen died along the lines of ”unemployed 73 year old gets a job at last”. It has been a running gag in the UK for decades that Charles would have to wait so long to get the job he was born to do, not in a disrespectful way, and I can’t see anything even slightly disrespectful to the Queen. The British poke fun at their leaders, it is part of their culture.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes I think there was a “Private Eye” cover that pretty much said that. As jokes go it’s a pretty bland and fairly common one around here. But then we’ve been satirising and laughing at the royal family for centuries; some of the cartoons in the 18th and 19th century about the Prince Regent and his marital woes were pretty savage.

          I don’t think it’s particularly funny but I don’t think it’s offensive either. Kate is way over-reacting to this in my opinion.

          1. Bread Addict*

            There is. I have it. Though the joke is someone queueing to see the Queen’s casket box thing and King Charles asking “how long have you been waiting?” And the replying queuer saying “Not as long as you.”

            Its a total common joke here in the UK. Even my friend who loves the royals thought it was funny. Its weird to me that someone who likely isnt even British gets so offended by it they stop working with someone?? And seriously this should have been sorted as soon as it was noticed. Its very unprofessional.

        2. Yvette*

          I even recall seeing jokes/speculation that the Queen was going to outlive Charles and the throne would end up going directly to William.

        3. Starbuck*

          Yes, the part that’s funny is that normally an “unemployed 73 year old” is not a thing, they’re just “retired”. Calling any of this rude or offensive is just a huuuuge reach.

        4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          But this was an American poking fun at a monarch from a monarchy Americans cast off centuries ago, so naturally an American office worker has to be offended by it! /s

      5. Bagpuss*

        OK, I’m English and I am really struggling to see how it was in any way insulting to the Queen.
        It was extremely mild. It’s not particularly funny but that’s because it’s a weak joke, not because it’s offensive. (And let’s face it, making jokes about the royals is pretty much the definition of punching up)

        Either way, Alison’s advice is correct, OP needs to address Kate’s behaviour right away and make clear that she needs to behave professionally and do her job, the subject of the joke isn’t really relevant.

        I also think it’s a real stretch to see it as a suggestion that the organisation is ageist – nothing in the context suggests that.

        It’s just as well Kate wasn’t in England when it happened, she’d have been in a permanent state of outrage.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          “It’s just as well Kate wasn’t in England when it happened, she’d have been in a permanent state of outrage.”

          LOL! Yeah, I think she could only have managed it in the US (I’m American, and Kate is weird, but you do get a lot of Americans weirdly obsessed with the British royal family. I mean, I am too, but my obsession is limited to the royal corgis and other dogs .,. and all the non-royal dogs in the world too …)!

          And honestly, even if it was offensive, it was towards Charles, not the queen, and also perhaps to the system of how the title is passed. The most offensive part is just how lame the joke is!

      6. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I don’t think it is about age discrimination at all. It is not that they were progressive enough to hire a 73 year old.

        It is a joke about privilege; that he did not get his first job till age 73 and his mom paid his rent. And maybe about the absurdity of the royal system that denied him the only job he could have till he was 73 but still paid him the whole time.

        Yes, he did work the whole time; but he did not have his formal job title.

        1. bamcheeks*

          It’s also a joke about how anachronistic and absurd the monarchy itself is. I mean, a “job” is a (written or verbal) contract between an individual and an employer to exchange labour for money. It’s a fundamentally modern concept that depends on the idea of an individual who owns their own labour and is entitled to sell it. None of these things applies to someone who holds a formal legal position and exercises powers because of who they were born to and when.

        2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I agree that is the intent. And yes, he did work the whole time, but it is just a joke! So I fully agree with you!

      7. BubbleTea*

        How was it insulting to the Queen? I can see why someone might think it was insulting to King Charles, although I’d have taken it to be ironic in the same way that anyone joking about me finally getting a job would be (I have four jobs at the moment, never fewer than two) – he’s been working his entire life and now he’s had a promotion.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I honestly think it’s either (or both) a factually inaccurate dig at Charles for being lazy and not working and a more factual dig at him for his privilege and/or a comment on how absurd the system of passing down the crown in the royal family can be.

          But yeah, cannot see anything directed at the queen here.

      8. Falling Diphthong*

        Neither the Queen nor the King were hired into the job on their merits.

        Granted I fall into the group “We had a war so that I would not have to care what the British Royal Family does.”

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Yeah, I mean, I am an American too and I enjoy the royal weddings and the clothes (especially Princesses Kate and Charlotte’s clothes), but we fought two wars actually to reject the British monarchy, so I genuinely do not care in any meaningful way.

          That said, if you need to obsess over a rich and privileged family, I say pick the royal family over the Kardashians at least!

      9. Dust Bunny*

        That is not at all how I read it. I read it as the Royal Family’s “jobs” are generally considered to be philanthropic hobbies that they can do because everyone else pays their living expenses. Very much in the vein of the Victorian gentleman [explorer, scientist, inventor, etc.] who could do what he did because it didn’t need to pay the bills.

      10. Observer*

        (1) It was insulting to the Queen.

        Oh my! Where is my fainting couch!? /sarc

        To the extent that it was insulting to the Queen, the insult IS mild. Even in England, where people have some legal obligations this would not be a big issue. For an American to mildly “insult” the late Queen is hardly the stuff of major misbehavior.

        It was ageist and suggests that the organization engages in age discrimination.

        That’s some impressive mental gymnastics right there.

        Congratulations on managing a take on the situation that lands even more oddly than Kate’s.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          The joke was about Charles more than the queen! It really did not reflect much on the queen at all! Honestly, to the extent it did, it more reflected on the circumstances of the monarchy and the way it is passed down than on the queen!

          And I don’t really see the ageism in any significant way either. I mean, one could argue the jokes and even genuine objections to Trump and Biden as presidents due to their age were more ageist (there are certainly better objections to be made). Charles as king, like his mother, is a symbolic figurehead and isn’t deciding affairs of state. No one is really implying that he cannot do the job or should be ineligible due to his age. So yeah, not getting it!

      11. MicroManagered*

        This is taking it waaaaaaayyyyy too literally and way too seriously. Most people in the US don’t give a hoot about “the Queen” or the royal family in general. It’s kinda our thing actually.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          While I agree that should be our thing, a lot of Americans (not most, but a weirdly larger than one might expect number) get really into the royal family stuff. Like in a bizarre, fetishy, watched and internalized way too much Downton Abbey kinda way. Some comments on this thread are by British people weirded out by the way certain Americans have acted or expected them to respond over the queen’s death. I was a little embarrassed to read those comments, no gonna lie!

      12. Parakeet*

        Who cares if it was insulting to the queen? She wasn’t a coworker of Kate or William, and the insult isn’t about protected-class membership. Also, she’s past caring.

        I interpreted the age part as being either a commentary on the fact that ageism exists, or a joke about how long Charles has been waiting.

        And yes, it’s an incredibly mild joke, probably the mildest I’ve heard on this subject (I’m in the US).

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          But it did not insult the queen at all. It was about Charles, and honestly I think it was a dig at him for being lazy (not factually correct, but it is a joke) and privileged (clearly factually correct).

          Otherwise, it is a dig at the system of how the title of monarch is passed down, and that is a joke about an institution, not a person.

      13. MsClaw*

        That seems….. rather wildly speculative.
        Not only was this joke super mild, it was the exact joke used by many a satirical online publication. Dude probably saw it on twitter that morning and just repeated it.

        There are a lot of people in this comment section who are making a lot of assumptions about what this says about the manager, the organization, etc when this is basically an oft-repeated Dad Joke.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          There are really only a few acting like it says anything about anything (except that Kate is being inappropriate). They are just repeating themselves a lot!

      14. MCMonkeyBean*

        How is it even insulting to the queen? She’s not even part of the joke at all other than the fact that her absence led to it. “You lived so long that your son didn’t take the throne until his 70s” is the only thing that the joke says about the queen if you have to make it about her somehow, and that is hardly an insult…

    3. John Smith*

      Brit here (and Royalist). It’s hardly the worst thing that’s been said bout Chazza. A popular satirical magazine over here has printed much worse, as have other newspapers, (don’t even get me started on the shitshow that passes for our so-called government).

      The joke from the manger, frankly, was just a rubbish one. Tasteless? A tiny tad. Funny? No. Enough to cause offence? Nah.

      But in either case, it’s no reason to freeze out this manager. There’s one manager in my place who is thoroughly obnoxious – if he were in a social setting with my friends I can guarantee he would be knocked out by one of them within minutes. I still have to be civil with him at work (though its a very cold civility, like not laughing at his jokes). Totally freezing out isn’t an option, as much as I’d like it to be.

      1. Artemesia*

        AND as Alison notes, this is something that needs to be managed NOW, YESTERDAY and not allowed to continue until the regular review. If this admin doesn’t shape up and stop acting like a jerk to William NOW, she should be fired. Employees don’t get to decide to not do their job because their fee fees are hurt. The OP should have stopped this the day it became obvious what was happening and the employee needs to know her job is on the line.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          The weirdest part of the letter was about what time of year you might raise the issue of refusing to talk to one of your managers or do any work for them. Now! Now would be the time to raise that issue.

          1. WellRed*

            Yes the op is totally neglecting their duties here and missing the point, besides. You don’t tell the employee she’s too sensitive you address the WORK aspect. And maybe put a stop to streaming royal events at the office. She’s kind of lost that privilege.

      2. Observer*

        But in either case, it’s no reason to freeze out this manager. There’s one manager in my place who is thoroughly obnoxious – if he were in a social setting with my friends I can guarantee he would be knocked out by one of them within minutes. I still have to be civil with him at work (though its a very cold civility, like not laughing at his jokes). Totally freezing out isn’t an option, as much as I’d like it to be.

        This is exactly it. Even if the joke had been truly, truly obnoxious, Kate’s response is so wildly out of line that the OP is falling down in the job by not addressing it NOW.

      3. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

        Yeah, considering the times I’ve been scolded (and once written up) for objecting as mildly as I could to actually bigoted “jokes” from coworkers (I’ve unfortunately never dared oppose anyone above me), I’m kind of envying Kate here for getting away with such a massive overreaction.

      4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        The most offensive thing about the joke is that is just was not really funny. I mean, really not funny jokes can be funny based on timing (right time, it’s lack of funniness renders it funny, or someone reacts like it is really funny and that reaction makes it funny … weird concept but I know we all have had that happen). But this was just … not funny!

        1. Matt McQuaid*

          I think the atrocities of colonialism committed in her name are far more offensive than this joke. The Royal Family isn’t beyond reproach.

    4. A Pound of Obscure*

      Explaining the veracity of the joke shows you have missed the point. Most of us here in the States don’t share your intricate knowledge of or interest in what your king does, and while the offended employee has a right to feel the way she feels, she can’t continue behaving the way she’s been behaving at work. That’s the point.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Most of us here in the States don’t share your intricate knowledge of or interest in what your king does

        TBH I was assuming Douglas Mosier was American, because that’s not a “normal British person” comment about the monarchy! I mean, I know about the Duchy of Cornwall because if I accidentally pick up a DoC product in the supermarket I put it back, but it wouldn’t occur to me that being the titular head of the Duchy of Cornwall was a real job any more than waiting to be king was.

        1. yala*

          tbh I’m not really sure that it is.

          I’ve seen some American monarchists, and…it gets weird. Like, if you’re already from a country with a monarchy, I guess I get it. But if you’re not, espousing a return to it is…yeah, weird is probably the kindest.

        2. Bagpuss*

          Me too. And it’s not. The Duchy of Cornwall is a source of income, owning it isn’t a job. Actually running an estate can be a job, but it’s not Charles’s job, any more than running the Crown estates will now be.
          His role was more of a figurehead.

        3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Yeah, I (American) know he was a working member of the royal family representing them at events and charities and whatnot (and I probably only know that because Harry and Megan actually resigned that position, which was the first sign to me that it was a position at all! LOL). But I know nothing about what work is involved in running the Duchy of Cornwall. I would assume it is mainly delegated to trained staff!

      2. inko*

        Most of us here in the States don’t share your intricate knowledge of or interest in what your king does

        Most of us in the UK don’t either to be honest.

    5. StressedButOkay*

      It’s still not something that she can use to stop doing her job. It might not be in the best taste but as John Smith said in this thread, there have been far worse things said and in print.

      She needs to take a step back and realign the fact that she can’t stop doing portions of her work or ignore a colleague because of someone like this

    6. allathian*

      True enough, the fact that King Charles has been in training for the job he was born to do for at least 50+ years, doesn’t mean he was sitting on his hands in the meantime.

      I don’t think the joke was funny, and William should have had the sense not to make it in Kate’s hearing, assuming he knew how she felt about the British Royal Family. That said, Kate’s reaction was inappropriate, and she needs to either treat William with professional civility, like she would any other colleague, or look for a new job if she really can’t face working for him.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Naw, Kate needs to get over herself. We literally fought a war to get away from this institution.

        1. Pants*

          And we’re coming up on fighting another new one too. Chuckles is the least of our worries.

          Wonder how Kate feels about Harry and Meg?

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I don’t think he had any reason to not say it even knowing how she felt about the royal family. The joke is lame and not funny, but not offensive.

    7. SheriffFatman*

      > He’s had a job for 50+ years: the CEO of this little corporation called “the Duchy of Cornwall” with land holdings of 135,000 acres to manage.

      No, that would be the Secretary & Keeper of the Records of the Duchy. The duke is more like chairman of the board.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Yeah, that is what I would assume. Like, surely staff that have been trained do all the actual work of running the duchy. Charles did work, but more as a working member of the royal family representing the family at public events and charities and formal ceremonies. Honestly, he probably traveled too much in that gig to be reliably helpful or useful in the day to day running of the duchy.

    8. Kaye*

      When you compare it to what Edward VII said about Queen Victoria it barely registers on the scale of ‘tasteless jokes about monarchs’.

      1. Yvette*

        OK I’ll bite, what did Edward VII said about Queen Victoria? I tried to Google but could not find it.

        1. Anonny*

          “I don’t mind praying to the Eternal Father, but I must be the only man in the country afflicted with an eternal mother.”

          Queen Victoria had the longest reign of any monarch (63 years and 7 months) until Elizabeth II overtook her. Edward VII was 58 when he became king and only reigned for ten years in comparison.

      2. londonedit*

        People think the British press are bad now, but they were also absolutely awful about Queen Victoria’s friendship/dalliance/affair/whatever it actually was with John Brown. The Royal Family themselves were absolutely mortified about the whole thing and the Queen was the butt of a million jokes. Nowadays we tend to look back and think Victoria was venerated throughout her reign, but she absolutely was not.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Honestly, although I find her interesting (mainly her horrible childhood – I do admit that I am impressed that she managed to maintain a strong sense of independence while and after being raised in such an abusive and controlling environment), I think she owed a lot of her success and her ability to maintain the monarchy to Albert and to the fact that they had such a large family together. And considering hers and Albert’s emphasis on morality, I can see why people were unimpressed with what appeared to be an affair. It was a combination of the beliefs of the era and her own role in shaping those beliefs.

          Also, from what I have read, she was not always kind to all her children.

    9. Raven*

      As many people have pointed out, that doesn’t matter. It’s not a generally offensive joke and Kate cannot be freezing out William at work: OP needs to speak to her and find a solution.
      Also it *is* a very mild joke about the different set of norms that the British royal family ascribe to. That’s true whether or not you acknowledge all his other work.

      1. Observer*

        OP needs to speak to her and find a solution.

        Actually, the *OP* doesn’t need a “solution”. They need Kate to start behaving like a reasonable adult. Now, it’s possible that Kate needs a solution, but that’s on her.

    10. Ferret*

      I know! How dare he not respect how hard it it to have inherited such massive wealth and power, definitely without a massive staff sitting behind them and constant exemptions from laws and regulations that us ordinary mortals have to live by! After all Charles can’t even put on his own clothes so managing all that must be extra special hard for him

    11. Britchikaa*

      I’m British and very hardcore anti monarchy and I don’t agree with this at all.

      I really don’t think non-Brits should be commenting since it’s not your taxes paying for them, or your journalists being threatened with false arrest to censor them from reporting on the royals’ activities. (Guess no knighthood for Krishnan despite being a national treasure.)

      I really don’t understand why foreigners get so worked up defending someone else’s royal family that they don’t even know anything about except what’s in the press. It’s really rare that actual Brits do this.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I trust, then, that you will not comment about American holidays, our health insurance system, etc.

        As a mild follower of the British monarchy, I found the joke to be both accurate and funny. I’m also not surprised that he had to wait that long, because Edward, the son of Victoria, had a long weight as well.

        1. Kaye*

          ‘I don’t mind praying to the Eternal Father, but I must be the only man cursed with an Eternal Mother.’

        2. inko*

          Well, the actual equivalent there would be Brits getting personally offended if anyone dared to criticise or even joke about the US health insurance system. Leaping to its defense and fetishising the wonders of the free market while continuing to use our own nationalised health care. Which would also be a bit weird and irritating to people with actual skin in the game, I think.

          1. inko*

            (Read back and realised we’re talking about all commenters, not just Kate – so prev comment is slightly out of whack)

          2. Sylvan*

            I think it would be Brits getting offended if other Brits made fun of… Well, we don’t have anything like the royal family. The Kennedy family? Some multi-generation celebrity families, and I don’t mean the Kardashians?

            1. inko*

              Oh, I just meant because the commenter above mentioned Brits feeling free to go on about American healthcare (and I’m quite sure we can get obnoxious about that). Yeah, I’ve no idea if there’s a family/group in the US that are this much of a privileged institution! It’s a weird setup.

      2. Carbon Dale*

        “I really don’t think non-Brits should be commenting”

        Well, well, well. How the turntables…

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Honestly, if Britain didn’t want everyone in their business it should have stayed out of everyone else’s business all these centuries.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              Ah, yes, whataboutism.

              I’m not in favor of the US doing it, either, but the whole “the sun never sets on the British Empire” thing was a big deal until all those colonized countries wanted to move to the UK for a piece of the pie.

              1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                and some of them did and now there’s even a Hindu PM what is the world coming to/s

            2. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

              The fact that the US took a terrible practice from its progenitor country Britain and ran with it doesn’t absolve Britain from its own colonialist atrocities. Many of us are in the Western Hemisphere because of the slave trade Britain brought here and the US inherited and expanded — neither country gets a pass.

          1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

            Good nonexistent gods, THIS.

            (It’s also why I roll my eyes at people here getting precious and whiny over non-US’ians having negative or even just surprised thoughts about the state of US “healthcare” and politics, etc. It’s not like the US hasn’t spent its entire history as a country meddling in basically every other nation’s affairs in much the same way as the ol’ British Empire it tried so hard to distance itself from. People from other countries have every right to criticize “US things,” when the US is screaming about itself from every rooftop in every corner of the world.)


            An Indigenous American with MANY thoughts about monarchies and empires and meddling, and I guarantee Kate would not like any of them

            1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

              People who are annoyed with the chorus of “your healthcare system sucks” etc. aren’t annoyed because they disagree that many things in the US suck, it’s just that the same comments come up every time and they never actually help address the situation.

              1. Dust Bunny*

                OMG this. WE KNOW. WE KNOW IT SUCKS. But if we could just–snap!–fix it we’d have done it already. Trust me, I vote every time and I keep voting for the people who are trying to help, but there is no magic wand. If you don’t have a workable solution and the wherewithal to implement it, sit down.

                1. Siege*

                  It’s the assumption that THIS comment is the one that will make me leap up and start a revolution that gets to me. WE KNOW, OKAY, WE FREAKING KNOW.

                2. Florence*

                  This is where I remind you that there is a lot of public debate over health care, and plenty of voters quite like the system we have. You’re entitled to your opinion that IT SUCKS but it’s not holy writ.

              2. tamarack and fireweed*

                OK, I will not comment on this in a healthcare thread, because that’s when someone’s healthcare related problems are in focus. But here we’re talking about this

                I understand the frustration (for the record, I’m European, live in the US after three then-EU countries), but I really don’t think that US people have any standing to tell Europeans to shut up about it. Do they think in Europe these rights weren’t won on the back of either the threat of major civil unrest, or after the cataclysmic destruction after WWII? Sure, *today’s* Europeans have done nothing to deserve these rights than US citizens, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction! It’s literally the role of citizens to make things happen in a democracy. I didn’t see 2 million people camp out in Washington for 2 weeks over the public option in Obamacare. And I *do* understand how money in politics and the oversized influence of industrial lobbies make changing the status quo super hard, but again, it’s no excuse to stop working on it, and it doesn’t make those wrong who point out that it’s a failure of the US society to not provide these rights.

                It’s more effective to point overbearing, lecture-prone Europeans to their own respective countries’ failings, which aren’t exactly hard to find either, than to tell them off over things they are right about.

                1. tamarack and fireweed*

                  (Sorry, editing fail paragraph 1 – I meant to finish something like “.. we’re talking about this theoretically, without any particular member being in healthcare trouble”)

              3. Eyes Kiwami*

                This is such a ridiculous tangent that it’s insulting to the intelligence of everyone distracted by it.
                “Non-Brits shouldn’t complain about criticism of the British monarchy because they’re not affected by the problems caused by the British monarchy.”

                This clearly does not mean that non-Brits can’t complain about colonialism. It has nothing to do with US colonialism. It has nothing to do with British commenters on this blog complaining about US health insurance and this comparison got things the wrong way around.

                It means that Americans like Kate in the post are being overly sensitive to criticism of an institution whose problems do not affect her.

      3. Rebecca*

        Surely you mean ‘Non Commonwealth Countries’ shouldn’t be commenting – as King Charles is not the King only of Britain. He is, for example, the King of Canada. I wholeheartedly reserve the right to bash my Royal Family, Brit or no.

        1. RIP Pillow Fort*

          Yeah my Aussie in-laws have been joking about this forever. They certainly have the right.

          I’ll make comments because I have /opinions/ and being commonwealth adjacent allows me 1-2 comments a year. Least that’s what the family tells me.

        2. Lydia*

          Everyone can bash on a colonist whose family legacy includes millions of deaths. Even the US, themselves colonists, get to enjoy that action.

      4. Don't Call Me Shirley*

        I defend my right to complain as a Canadian – I was hoping QEII would be the last monarch on my money, on military oaths, etc.

        (I am anti monarchist, we still have legal ties to these elderly foreigners and that irks me to no end)

      5. Hi, I’m Troy McClure*

        Umm, I’m Canadian and have every right to talk about my head of state.

        Which is exactly what I would say to someone like Kate.

      6. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

        Huh. Didn’t you say the other day you’re biracial, as your qualification for policing how American Black people discussed racism on AAM? Racism in the UK doesn’t map precisely to racism in the US, you know.

        Concerning the current discussion, I think it would be really entertaining to see you go to Australia or Ghana to exhort the populace to not comment on the British Royal Family (TM). Next time I talk to my Jamaican cousins I’ll have to pose the thought experiment to them.

    12. tg33*

      I’m in Ireland, not the UK, but the way I heard that joke here was “73yo man gets his first job”. It’s amusing, I’ve been reading fluff pieces about how the Queen should step down and hand over the monarchy to Charles for the last 40 years or so, but it isn’t direspectful, just poking fun.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          I have a friend who is from India and she is also really into the Royal family (not on the level of Kate, but definitely was excited about the recent weddings). It’s so interesting to me.

    13. Bunny*

      So what you’re saying is that I cannot wear my Zombie Queen Elizabeth Halloween Costume to this office.

      1. TrixM*

        Ok, we’re not huge into Halloween in Oz/NZ (it’s slowly creeping in), but I would participate in office dress-ups if I could just witness that vision of magnificence.

    14. Daisy*

      Strongly disagree. He’s been paid a fortune of our money for nothing more than turning up at events and waving, and he’d get it if he did none of that. The Duchy business is just further feathering his nest. They’re all leeches.

    15. Observer*

      Not only is it not “mild” but it’s utter falsehood.

      Why is this relevant?

      Most people making these jokes don’t actually think that he’s been sitting around doing nothing, even people who don’t like him. But he HAS been waiting for decades to take on the BIG job – the one he was training for a toddler.

      But even if that were not the case, it STILL does not matter. The joke is tasteless at best. It’s not a really accurate reflection of reality either. But that doesn’t change the fact that Kate’s reaction is not only WILDLY overdone. More important, it doesn’t change the fact that she doesn’t get to decide not to do her job.

    16. Database Developer Dude*

      As a black man in the USA, I loathe the very idea of royalty. It’s predicated on the idea that a person is better than someone else just because of their birth. If I were working with Kate, and she did that to me, I’d immediately put pen to paper for a formal, official complaint. ESPECIALLY because we’re American citizens…our head of state is also our head of government, the President of the United States. If she wants to take that kind of offense at a mild joke about the Royals, she can go live in the UK. I’m not the one.

      I’m betting that Kate is a white woman and William is a black man. Anyone want to take that bet before Alison chimes in?

      1. Observer*

        Nah. I mean I would not be shocked, but I just don’t see that it really would play in to this.

        Her reaction is just soooo over the top and her obsession with the Royals is so odd that you don’t really “need” extra layers to explain it, because even with your additions, her behavior is beyond strange.

    17. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Well, this is the United States and, for better or worse, that country was formed out of a revolt against the British Crown. Plenty of people in the UK are resoundingly anti-monarchist and even those who aren’t make fun of them all the time and I (also an anti-monarchist) say that someone in the US should certainly be allowed to make a joke.

      While he might be a CEO (which I’m not sure he is, that’s a more bureaucratic position, no?) of an *inherited* Firm, he does barely do any work compared to the vast majority of the world, so spare us that defense.

    18. I Guess We Stan The Monarchy Here?*

      Wow, I am seeing very clearly I stand in the minority on this website. I am a stauch anti-monarchist and that joke is the definition of “mild” to me! I am absolutely stunned by the defense of the Royals on here. It’s fine–everyone entitled to their own opinion, etc. etc. but I wouldn’t even have categorized it as “tasteless” like Alison did.

      1. londonedit*

        Really? I can see a couple of people agreeing that it’s somehow ageist or tasteless, but my read is that the vast majority of people (including people from the actual UK and Commonwealth) are arguing that you’ll hear much, much, much worse here and that you’d have to be a rampant monarchist to find it even vaguely offensive.

        1. Starbuck*

          Right, and it’s not like, say, the racist vitriol aimed at Meghan Markle – no matter how much I detest the royals, no human being deserves that and it’s harmful for *everyone* for that to be part of the public discourse. But the joke about the king? Not hurting anyone.

      2. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

        I admit I was also surprised by that judgement on a really mild joke. People who found that one tasteless should hear the ones about Andrew.

      1. Jocasta Nu*

        The Cabinet Cats (Larry at 10 Downing Street, Palmerton, Gladstone, etc.) can be downright scathing about the monarchy and political figures on Twitter. Since these are more or less official government accounts, I’ve always assumed the British have a much wider latitude for poking fun at public figures than we descendants of Puritans do. And also, it feels authentically cat-like in view, too.

    19. Rob*

      Yeah, if you think his life is remotely as hard as your average actual farmer you are dreaming.

      He’s not out there actually running any of these lands. He has tens of thousands of staff members.

    20. Sleepy*

      That’s fine if you want to few someone as being utterly ignorant about the Royal Family and what they do, but you don’t get to freeze them out over it.

    21. Starbuck*

      I mean fine, but really, who cares? If there’s anyone we’re allowed to make unfair jokes about, it’s *British* *royalty*. You can’t pretend they don’t deserve far worse than mild jokes. This is in the US – we literally fought a war (or two) over how much they suck.

    22. Seashell*

      Does Charles put in a 40 hour workweek at this job? How much does he make at this job? I guess however many millions he’s inherited + free luxurious housing divided by how much work he puts in.

      an American, who is glad not to be a royal subject

    23. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Yes, and he also represented the royal family officially with many important duties, but that doesn’t make the joke egregious or even particularly offensive. It may be false, but it is still a mild joke. And a lot of people are ignorant about what the royal family do, but many are fairly ignorant on the actual workings of their own governments, and it seems pretty clear that OP’s company is not in the UK based on how she describes Kate’s desk décor! One could easily make the same joke about the current US president and his immediate predecessor, and, with the current US president especially, that would be total bs. But I do not think it would be egregious.

      Regardless, we have to work with our colleagues and do our jobs, and especially since William’s fairly mild joke appears to have been a one time thing and not part of some campaign of behavior targeting Kate, she needs to suck it up.

    24. RagingADHD*

      Considering the type of jokes that were flying around when his phone calls with Camilla were leaked, this is *extremely mild.*

    25. Julie*

      Pretty sure the money that his family stole pays for the staff to manage the estate.

      It’s an *extremely* mild joke and Kate is extremely unprofessional.

    26. tamarack and fireweed*

      It’s still mild. Joking about hereditary monarchy must not just be allowed, but is necessary for the good functioning of a democratic society, to defang some the monarchy’s nefarious impact.

      Any joke has the potential to offend *someone*, if by pure freak accident. That someone might get all het up about a joke on *their country’s former colonial overlord* is on the person, not the joker. There are actual criteria for what jokes cross lines and are therefore problematic, and it’s not “someone takes the side of the rich and powerful and is all offended when fun is being poked at them”.

  3. nnn*

    I keep forgetting he’s king and when I saw the headline the 17th century King Charles with the long curly black wig came to mind and I got very confused.

    1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

      I thought the same, and then I thought of the spaniel. It may take awhile for me to reset my odometer.

      1. I love the people*

        That is interesting to me because I wouldn’t actually assume Charles II if someone says Charles. I assumed Charles I (based on the idea I guess that no number meant the first).

        Also my name for this post is based on a Charles II parody (I love the people and the people love me, so much that they restored the English monarchy…) so I do love Charles II. He is my favorite Charles.

        1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

          I’m better acquainted with Prussian and Danish nobility thanks to my recent heritage, but your assumption makes more sense.

        2. 1LFTW*

          I also assumed Charles I! Specifically, my brain went to the verse about him in Monty Python’s “Oliver Cromwell” song, because that would *definitely* offend a fan of the British royal family.

          1. Christmas Carol*

            As my high school English Lit teacher explained to us, then the British decided to chuck one Chuck I.

        3. Asenath*

          Someone mentioned to me that they were surprised Charles III chose that as a regnal name because it was such a bad luck name for English monarchs, and I was surprised in return because I immediately thought of Charles II, who, whatever else you can say of him, wasn’t a bad luck monarch. And there were only two Charleses, so I didn’t think one out of two coming to an unfortunate end meant it was a bad luck name!

          1. Lilo*

            The whole Catholicism thing did help set up his brother’s eventual downfall.

            I believe Bonnie Prince Charlie was sometimes referred to as Charles III so there was also that.

            But that’s deep historical stuff.

          2. UKDancer*

            I think if he were younger, he might have gone with one of his other names as a regnal name because of the slightly negative fact that Charles I got deposed and executed and Charles II was mainly renowned for being a tad on the lecherous side. If he became king in his 30s, he might have gone with “Arthur” because of the appeal of Camelot or “George” because of the link to his grandfather and great grandfather.

            At 73 everyone knows him as Charles so it would be even more of a break with the past for him to decide he was to change it. George VI was only 40 when he came to the throne and wasn’t as well known, so it was easier for him to choose George rather than Albert. To be honest I doubt anyone would remember what the new name was after this time. It’s hard enough remembering to say “king” rather than “queen.”

            1. TrixM*

              I think everyone’s well over Georges h
              – the last one was his grandfather.

              “King Arthur” would be way, way too much. It cracks me up just thinking about it – talk about easy fodder for the cartoonists and meme-ists. Not to mention a ton of source material from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

          3. HugsAreNotTolerated*

            I mean… the great fire of London in 1666 did occur during the reign of Charles II, as did a major resurgence of the Bubonic plague, so he wasn’t really all that lucky as a monarch.

          4. Lenora Rose*

            It’s not like John, the king so hated they’ve pretty much sworn off having one of the two most common British based male names used for royalty ever again…

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I also first think of the spaniel. They are a lot cuter than the actual current king. (Oops, hope I didn’t offend anyone.)

      3. Lenora Rose*

        My kids’ school division has a building called Prince Charles (yada yada) Centre. I got a couple of blank looks as well as a couple of chuckles when I asked if it would need to be renamed. The words are so completely decoupled from the person.

    2. My dear Wormwood*

      Being an Anglican church, we sang God Save The King on the first Sunday after the queen died and it felt SO weird to say king instead of queen. And I haven’t even sung the queen version in years!

      Also, since it’s not a regular hymn in our repertoire and they forgot to put the words in the order of service, half the congregation was actually singing “Daa daaa da daaaa da King, daa daa daaa daaaaaa da King….”

      1. I love the people*

        Right? It’s super weird. Basically everyone I know are Welsh nationalists and anti monarchists, but I have mad respect for Queen Elizabeth and it’s weird to look up a government agency and see “his royal highness” vs “her” and god save the king seems so odd. God save the King seems so weird…

        1. John Smith*

          It would be weird, seeing as the title is wrong! The monarch is referred to as His/Her Majesty. Royal highness is used for other members of the firm.

          1. I love the people*

            I mis spoke and you are correct! I just did that thing where you blurt out what sound right without really thinking. It happens. Usually the one time you come to comment on something the internet is there to mount it out. But you are 100% correct and I’m just mashing letters on an iPhone

        2. Artemesia*

          One of the jokes running around the internet was ‘I can’t believe the British are so ‘woke’ that they have made a man Queen of England.’ for most people it has been God save the Queen their whole lives, so it is a jolt.

          1. londonedit*

            It’s so bizarre isn’t it! I can’t get used to calling William and Kate Prince and Princess of Wales, either. It’s been God Save the Queen and Queen everything since my parents were five years old, even they can’t really remember the last time there was a king. I sang God Save the King at the football the other week and it was very odd (might take a bit of practise for some of the England men’s team to remember the words…)

            1. WS*

              I’m Australian, so we haven’t sung “God Save the [current monarch]” as our national anthem since I was a toddler, only if a royal shows up. But there’s already been a mock-up new coin with the King on it and it’s very odd indeed – my parents were also five years old last time there was a King!

              1. RIP Pillow Fort*

                My husband and in-laws are Australian. I know their Anglican church did sing “God Save the King” on the Sunday after Queen Elizabeth’s death. It was during the traditional service and everyone joked about how weird it felt saying King instead of Queen! I’ll need to ask them how they feel about the new mock-up when I talk to them next.

                Only my mother in law is old enough to barely remember the last time there was a King. My father in law was born after Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

            2. Nina*

              I don’t think they are yet, are they? ‘Prince/Princess of Wales’ isn’t automatically heritable like ‘Monarch of Great Britain’ is. It has to be deliberately invested. Until King Charles formally hands it over to his kid, he’s both King of England and Prince of Wales.

              Charles’ investitute as Prince of Wales was a whole thing.

          2. Liz*

            I work for barristers and instead of a cruisy Friday, I had to go around scouring websites and email signatures to change the Qs to Ks. I still feel this compulsion to correct any Q I come across…

      2. Chocolate Teapot*

        Did you also pray the collect for the Sovereign?

        The National Anthem is at the back of the New English Hymnal. For a recent memorial service, I went through with a pencil and crossed out Queen to replace it with King.

        It sounds like William was being thoughtless with his remarks rather than malicious. That said, Kate needs to behave more professionally.

        1. bamcheeks*

          When I was a child chorister in a village church, we used to spend the sermons looking through the old BCPs to find the ones which still had “thy servant GEORGE our king”. This was in the 80s!

          1. Asenath*

            I spent a lot of the more boring bits of church services poring through the more obscure bits of the BCP for something interesting to read. They were, relatively speaking, in almost modern English. During a visit to my grandmother, I admitted I hadn’t brought my prayer book with me, and for some reason she didn’t want me to use one of the copies provided by the church for unprepared worshipers, so she lent me her old copy. The text, if not the actual book, must have dated back to the 1700s (at a guess) and was MUCH harder to read, even for someone used to the edition I grew up with.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Reaching back into memories of my BCP-obsessed choir director– I think there was a new edition in the 1920s? So you probably had a genuine 1662 and the one your church was using was the 1928 one!

              1. Asenath*

                I’m in Canada – the edition I grew up in was revised in 1962, but was still pretty traditional in language. That’s definitely what was used in church then, the BAS (Book of Alternative Services) not having arrived. And now I’m wondering what edition she gave me – Canada first got its own BCP in 1919, but that side of my family lived in Newfoundland, which wasn’t part of Canada in 1919. The previous version in use was the British 1662 one. So, yes, you’re probably right! (I love this kind of historical detail). I wish I had that prayer book – I do have one of my grandmother’s prayer books, but it’s the combined 1962 BCP and hymnal edition.

      3. Hi, I’m Troy McClure*

        My mom is in our church choir and she told me people kept getting the pronouns wrong. “God save our gracious King… send her victorious.”

    3. Cranjis McBasketball*

      That’s okay – I saw the headline and immediately thought of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels!

      1. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Me too! I thought it was going to center around an angry dog lover.

        And I live in England, so I really should update that association.

      2. NYC Taxi*

        Me too! I thought, “yeah, people can get worked up about their dogs.” I’d be equally defensive about my Pom/Shih Zhu boy, but I would still stay professional.

    4. Fiorinda*

      The king who brought back partying! I always think of him too. Or at least the Horrible Histories version of him…

    5. Akcipitrokulo*

      It is weird! Kings belong in children’s story books and histories… having a Queen, yep, that’s just the way it is, but a *King*? Yeah, that’s an anacronism!

    6. Dust Bunny*

      Same. I mean, I have lots of friends who are history-nerdy enough to make a joke about that King Charles, too (and lots of animal-loving friends who might also make jokes about King Charles spaniels), so I didn’t immediately think it was weird, but I also didn’t immediately think it was about the current King Charles.

    7. Butterfly Counter*

      I automatically think of the dog breed. It’s all very cute in my head until reality strikes.

  4. Mrs D*

    4 – We had this issue at work, a new head of department who was in a role clearly way over their head. They were demoted rather than let go & it’s been a disaster. Everyone else is furious about it. They aren’t good enough for this role either & should have been let go. Bad for team morale & organisational weird too

    1. Seal*

      We have this issue now with our new director; everyone is hoping against hope that they’ll be fired before they do anymore damage. Although it undoubtedly will be uncomfortable to let them go so quickly, they’ve alienated so many people that to merely demote them would just make things worse. Just rip the bandaid off and be done with it.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I can see demotion working if someone were promoted, realized they hated it (or were in over their head) and wanted to go back to their old job. Or if they were moved to a new position in a different department that was a step down, but with a different focus and immediate coworkers.

      Being brought into a company as a manager, and then demoted to work as a peer to your former reports is something that I think most people would find really hard to handle, even people who were good at handling critical feedback and considerate of other people. Someone with a reputation for being a bulldozer, who doesn’t handle feedback well? Very, very high odds it will be unpleasant for everyone involved, including the demoted employee.

      I’d say fire her, and let her get a fresh start somewhere else.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        The other person who’d find it really hard is whoever ends up being her manager… a good manager could shut her down if she still tries to be “in charge” (she would, based on the letter) but that isn’t a great position to put that manager in.

      2. Smithy*

        I think that unless someone is in a really precarious financial situation, the reality is that most of us require some version of “saving face” – even if we’re not the most egotistical of characters. And being hired into one managerial role and then being demoted on that same team would be really hard.

        Any time I’ve seen this work, it’s been where the demotion was to another team or role and often to a title where it’s just not obvious. So if someone was hired as a Manager and the role below generally below that is Officer – then they’d get a new title like Lead, Advisor, etc.

      3. Ama*

        Yeah I think if it was *just* the actual job skills that were lacking and there was evidence that the employee themselves realized they were struggling in the new role a demotion could work, but as described in the letter, this employee doesn’t seem to have the soft skills or the self awareness to accept a demotion without a lot of resentment.

        I can also say that, having been at an employer a decade ago where a couple of high-ranking staff were demoted after their poor performance was discovered the general consensus of the rank and file employees was that senior leadership was covering their own mistakes in hiring/letting the poor performers hang around so long by moving them to another role instead of just firing them. No one saw it as a positive.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          It does sound like sunk-cost fallacy to keep a bad employee by demoting them even when they’ve demonstrated that they can’t do the demoted job either.

          Although it’s possible the bad employee will resign rather than accept a demotion/pay cut, there’s no reason to take that change. It was a bad hire, the best path forward is to manage them out entirely and improve the hiring process for next time.

    3. Artemesia*

      Demotion makes sense when an employee is promoted from within because they are great and it turns out to be a bad fit. You make up some stuff about how ‘he really wanted to return to the work he loves to do’ and move on.

      But when you hire a new person and they are terrible, firing is the way to go or letting them resign. There is no reason to think they would be better at a lesser role. This person was a mistake and needs to be let go; do it as kindly as possible with perhaps some severance to make finding a new job easier, but let them go.

    4. tg33*

      I think demotion can only work if this individual has very very strong skills and desire to work in the “lower” role.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        AND everyone can agree to reduce their pay to the same as their former reports. Uneven pay scales are a morale killer.

        1. Is it Friday yet?*

          Definitely – someone (who was previously an executive) was demoted into our team, but kept their same pay and benefits. She never would have been hired into this role if it was competitive, doesn’t contribute at the same level as some very hard-working other people on the team, yet makes considerably more than they do.

      2. ferrina*

        This. Knowing what you know now about this person (and how they interact with the team), would you hire them into the lower role?

        If not, then don’t demote them.

    5. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, I think demotion is more often used as a consolation prize to soften the sting of being fired. And in some ways the employee benefits, mainly by still having an income and benefits. But usually it’s not a good outcome for anyone involved to put someone in a different position that still isn’t a good fit but has lower stakes.

    6. El+l*

      Yeah, what I’d ask OP4 is, “Assume for argument that this Manager of Teapots business had never happened. Would you go way out of your way to hire this person for Builder of Teapots?”

      Because that’s ultimately the only good reason to demote them. That’s the only good reason for everyone to go to the trouble and risk of trying to make this work.

      Any other reason is just avoidance and confused good intentions.

    7. JustaTech*

      I had this happen with a boss who had been a manager for *years*. He was good at the technical aspects of his job, but he was just not great at managing people. So he was demoted, and another person from the team promoted in his place. Awkward was an understatement, but he stuck around a lot longer than anyone expected. No one managed to do a good job of hiding how much better the group ran with the new boss. (Meeting agendas! Clear expectations! Finishing projects!)

      He’s asked to come back once or twice and we’re all like, dude, no! It’s not that we’re opposed to boomerangs, it’s that we have zero expectation that he’d gotten better at any of the manager stuff.

      (Why demote rather than fire/lay off? Because he’d been at the company for so long that he knew *everything*, including all the stuff no one had ever gotten around to writing down. And possibly also knew a lot of sensitive information leadership didn’t want him to spill.)

  5. I love the people*

    #1) I am female and want to have a gold similar and a bar at the office. Kind of seriously. But also I think that’s obnoxious. We had our big operations conference led by our COO last week and all the higher levels did a dinner and gold thing. I honesty did not want to go after 6 am start times and 12 hour days, but I find it obnoxious that this is where business is done. FWIW my VP, who works directly for the COO, (I am manager – the conference was manager level or above) tried to say he wouldn’t go if his whole management team weren’t invited but was ultimately overruled. I genuinely, sincerely, have no interest in going. I spent so many hours at work and wanted to go home to my life and out on sweatpants. But I also understand there is a whole underlying “this is where people get ahead” sleazy feeling I don’t like. But also if my work added a golf simulator and a bar I’d probably really improve my short game and also be drinking a lot and that kind of sounds awesome. But ugh.

    #2) I assumed it was an Oliver Cromwell joke. Not gunna lie, unless the header said the third I am probably assuming Charles the 1st. I literally scrolled to this question first because I was excited about a good kind Charles joke. I assume #3 will fall somewhere between 1 and the 2 on the awesomeness scale.

    1. I love the people*

      Also I accidentally hit post before I could edit. I would like a GOLF SIMULATOR not
      Gold similar. Love autocorrect. Sorry. There are probably more typos and I Did not edit.

      1. Dr Sarah*

        I initially read ‘gold similar and a bar’ with my mind still on the monarchy topic and thought it was one of those delightfully obscure heraldic descriptions.

    2. John Smith*

      It’s weird, because in every day speech, Queen Elizabeth was rarely referred to by her nominal (“the second”). I think it’s because we have a new monarch after having the previous one for so long and it’s all so new (and seeing all the historic procedures for the first time ever) that people for some strange reason like adding on his nominal, even if there is no need to (unless it is something formal or historical were there is a need to distinguish the different monarchs of the same name).

      1. I love the people*

        So I totally get that. It was just my initial thought. I think I’m not used to King Charles yet.
        So I think you are right that it’s because it’s so new. If someone says King Charles I get confused and assume it’s I or II, where it obviously would make sense it’s III. I am just not used to it yet, I think.

      2. A.N. O’Nyme*

        So based on my limited Belgian experience (we’re only on the seventh King of the Belgians – not King of Belgium by the way, important distinction): we also tend to refer to Albert II as “Albert” – probably in part because he’s still alive even if he’s now Prince Albert once again (abdication), in part because there’s enough time between him and Albert I and quite frankly in part because no one is going to confuse the two achievement-wise anyway.
        We do tend to refer to Albert I with his moniker though, as well as the Leopolds because there were three of them in short succession with two of them being notably awful.

        1. Ina+Lummick*

          I think within the UK, it’s partly because Queen Elizabeth reigned for so long, the majority of people alive today have only known her as their only monarch until recently. Also the Queen Elizabeth I was from the tail end on the Tudor period in the late 1500’s so there’s a longer gap between the previous Charles-es

          1. Bit o' Brit*

            It’s also only been what, 7 weeks? I write the wrong year in the date for longer than that after new years, it takes a while for default assumptions to adjust.

          2. londonedit*

            Yeah, you just said ‘The Queen’ and everyone knew who you meant. ‘The King’ still sounds weird and I think people are having to really concentrate to say ‘King Charles’ instead of ‘Prince Charles’ or ‘The Prince of Wales’ (which is now a completely different person). In my brain when I think ‘Prince of Wales’ Charles immediately comes to mind because he was Prince of Wales since before I was born. It’s all going to take a lot of getting used to!

      3. Madame Arcati*

        I wonder if it will be similarly strange-feeling for Americans one day when (hopefully when not if) a female president gets voted in. Still the president but not “Mr President” – will they go for Mrs/Miss President or Ms President? Or Madam President – usually Madam replaces Sir but in the U.K. HoP the Speaker is Mr Speaker or Madam Speaker I believe but I don’t know how Nancy Pelosi is addressed.

        1. LilPinkSock*

          Madam Speaker. VP Harris is by convention referred to as Madam Vice President, so I assume female Presidents will be addressed as Madam President.

        2. Zephy*

          It would be Madam President, her husband (assuming she is married, and furthermore to a man) would be the First Gentleman, with that precedent established by Kamala Harris’s husband gaining the title of Second Gentleman upon her assumption of the office of Vice-President.

          “Gentleman” is a little clunky but unless we replace it with something clearly gender-neutral, the only other masculine alternative to Lady that I can think of is “Lord,” and “First Lord” as a living human person’s title would go over pretty poorly here, I think.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      It reminded me of the family business with a wellness fund–ordinary employee applied to get a farm share dropping off fresh organic local produce, which they wouldn’t do. Finally asked in exasperation what they would consider funding. Race fees! Something useful to one member of the owning family and no one else at the company.

    4. Starfleet HVAC Engineering*

      #2) Suddenly, “Oliver’s Army” is playing in my head.

      It’s been discussed to death upthread, but anyway: getting “offended” by this joke to that degree is just as silly as being “offended” by people ragging on the Yankees if you’re a Yankees fan. Kate’s response is completely out of line in every way, assuming she’s not somehow related to the House of Windsor.

      Also, it’s not that funny. I’d hardly call being a figurehead royal with more money than several former colonies’ worth of GDP a “job.”

    5. just passing through*

      I know some good Charles I jokes! He was a short man, you know, and sensitive about his height. But it was OK in the end because it turned out they wanted him to be a head shorter.

      *ba dum tish*

      (Hope “Kate” isn’t reading this…)

  6. short'n'stout*

    I hope OP3 gets a chance to read the article about the team that drove off anyone who tried to replace their deceased coworker (in the “you may also like” section above) – it should give them some tools to head off that sort of dysfunction before it starts, and give everyone an easier transition.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      Coming to say this. There was excellent advice and considered suggestions in that thread.

      I especially liked the suggestions to break up the job a bit so that it’s not a new person coming in wholesale to take over the old person’s job. Shuffle around some of the responsibilities, change up the desk arrangements, see if you can get the position slotted under a new manager, change the name of the position slightly, and so forth. Also, the conversations about gathering the team to grieve and give space to talk about the departed person, but also to talk about the importance of moving forward.

        1. Vector_1985*

          Good point.
          No one want what happened in that lotter to any future employs because the rest drove them away for taking the jobs.

        2. Dr Logen*

          Thanks for linking it! We’re in the process of hiring to replace a colleague who died and everyone just keeps saying “oh he’s irreplaceable” and I hope that stops before the new person actually starts. Because of our timeline (academia), it’ll be about 14 months after he died before the new person starts so hopefully people get it out of their system before then!

          1. LW3/OP3*

            That is really toxic in my perspective even in regular circumstances. The pressure of not being able to relax on a vacation or be home and ill because no one can fill in for oneself most be horrible.

            I’m really happy we have worked a lot previously with building a team where we fill in for eachother as needed on a regular basis. I hope this phase will pass for your colleagues too.

      1. OP3*

        Thankfully we have some shifting around due to a person resigning for other (happy) reasons so we now will have two open positions and will not have one specific person taking that specific role. Different manager is not possible, we only have one team that is even remotely working on these tasks and that is my team. Titles are also very standardised here so not much to do about it.

        But as we always look at individuals and what they bring to the team and tailor tasks and responsibilities to who they are. So these parts will thankfully come quite natural. And I’m also relieved in a way that we now have two positions as it will make the change a bit more general and hopefully a bit easier.

        1. Sparkle llama*

          I don’t have any great advice here but I took an open position that was previously held by a person who died of suicide. I didn’t start until around 6 months after she passed. It was strange how people did and didn’t refer to her and eventually I googled in hopes of finding a linked in to see where she worked now and found the obituary. If there is a way for someone to note to new people what happened it would be a kindness to them since it can help explain what coworkers are going through and eliminate the confusion of something unspoken that everyone else knows about.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Yes it’s not a great thing to be left out of the loop about, especially if you’re the “replacement”.

          2. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Yeah, once an offer is accepted if I was the new employee I’d appreciate the manager saying something along the lines of “I mentioned in the interview that Jane died, but wanted to give you some context ahead of your first day — Jane she died of suicide which has impacted the team strongly. We have been working through that as a team where appropriate and have encouraged the team members to work through it personally as well. You may hear some allusions to Jane or her death and didn’t want you to be caught unawares. If you have any questions or are having difficulties with a team member (which I do not anticipate — we are excited to have you), please do not hesitate to let me know.”

            1. LW3/OP3*

              I think in general you have some really good points and examples but causes of a death here is considered a private matter that we cannot disclose and that has not been disclosed to the organisation. I do think it is very important to invite to bringing anything the new hire runs into though so that the person does not have to deal with it on their own.

              1. Insert Clever Name Here*

                Very valid policy. I hope you and your employees are doing ok; I know this has to be a very challenging time.

              2. Momma Bear*

                I think it might be better to say that the previous employee’s passing was sudden and unexpected vs giving the exact cause.

          3. LW3/OP3*

            Yes, that is definitely the plan and why I wrote. I want whoever starts to have the best chance possibly and with that they need to have sufficient information. So this is what I will be using Alison’s script for.

            As the team is now passed the initial shock I am also actively working in the we do not get afraid of mentioning our former team members name or what they did but that we try to find a new normal that is manageable without creating a bit hole of something that is not allowed to talk about.

      2. Phryne*

        I don’t know, the team in that post were pretty nuts. That is not a normal way to behave. I lost a co-worker suddenly last April. (cardiac arrest) Much as we were shocked, and much as we miss and mourn her, her replacement has the same job (assistant to the director, not a job you can really split up) and no one is attacking her for not being her predecessor. I assume the director did inform her at some point about what happened, but I have not heard a single person talk about her predecessor to the new one. What use would she have for that, she did not know her and she will have to find her own way into filling that position.
        But the desk might be a thing. I shared a room with this co-worker for 5 years (we do flex desking, but we have several spaces and due to the nature of our work we spend much more time behind our desks than most) and I have not used that space since, it feels weird to sit there, and too confronting. We have just started to work a bit more in the office again after the lockdowns and we had another team join us in the space, so it seemed to be a good time to start afresh in my desk choosing habits.

        1. As Per Elaine*

          Yeah, I had a coworker in my department die last year, and AFAIK nobody was weird like that to their replacement. (Mind you, it also took us like six months to fill the position, so by the time we brought on the new person everyone was just horribly grateful to have another person to get the workload back to normal.)

          The person in question worked out of a different office than I do, so I don’t know exactly what they did about desks, but I have seen the replacement taking calls from what looks like the same space in the office.

          It’s probably worth noting that the coworker who died had only worked here for a year or so, so didn’t have as much history with the team. (But even if it had been one of the people who’s worked here for a decade or more, I still can’t see my team behaving like that, no matter how cut up they were.)

        2. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, we lost a long-time and well-liked coworker to a stroke a few years ago and everyone was in shock, but his replacement has fit in just fine.

        3. Momma Bear*

          At a former company we had an employee who attended a company event on Friday and passed away from natural causes the following Sunday. We were all shocked. The company shuffled offices so the person who got that office was one of the current employees who was comfortable with it and the new hire who eventually came on got another open space. It think it helped to see it not as New Guy taking Bob’s Desk but Larry moving into a new role and taking over Bob’s old office accordingly.

    2. Anon for today*

      A place where I worked had a beloved member of staff die in a somewhat public way. Some of the things that helped. After leaving things sit for some time, one of their closest work friends took over their workspace, so when they eventually hired, the new person didn’t have both the role and the physical space of beloved coworker. If possible changing the role a bit so that it isn’t exactly the same. Again a bit like the physical space thing – the new person might be a headcount replacement but isn’t an “identical” replacement.

      It’s also worth talking to the team in advance of the hire. What parts of the role do they attribute to coworker’s legacy, would they like to take that over and swap out one of their tasks for the new hire to taken on. Giving them the chance to think about this will help, even if they decide not to take any of the tasks.

      For the new hire you can simply say, “we had a loss on our team.” and if you change things up you can then add “we moved some things around, so this role is a little different”

      And on a human level it’s important to sometimes (not in the hiring process!) talk about your colleague and remember them. On a work level that will help the team to separate out their memories and feelings from this new hire – the new person isn’t papering over the coworker you lost.

      On reflection I remember someone started the week our beloved colleague died and I remember thinking the new person must be having a very weird experience.

      1. Admiral Thrawn Is Always Blue*

        This is somewhat related. During my church office years, the other admin passed away in a fairly awful manner – cancer went into her brain, she had to go to hospice very suddenly and we never saw her again. I admit I wasn’t close to Ina, but I did respect her, and after the previous year of seeing what all she went through with her cancer, I was very sympathetic.

        A volunteer took up her desk and was HEAD OVER HEELS thrilled!! to get that desk. She thought she was going to get a paid job out of it. She might have, and if she had been restrained and respectful about Ina’s passing, I probably would have supported that. Let’s say I didn’t take her giggly gleeful attitude very well at all. First day she sat at that desk, she was already trying to clear out Ina’s things (her daughter in law worked there too, she was trying to get Nikki to take the belongings immediately). There were fireworks. It all ended with her NOT getting that job after all.

      2. Raw Flour*

        I don’t want to hijack your comment, but I think my comment could be more helpful here than as its own post:

        I started (fresh out of college) at a company the same week two very well-liked employees died in unrelated incidents. It was definitely surreal, but here are the things that kept me on instead of scaring me off:

        1) invitations to the memorial services for these two individuals went out to the whole company, and were not limited to specific departments/people/groups

        2) people talked about the decedents regularly, in normal conversation and with a generally normal cadence – that is not my being critical of those who are overwhelmed with grief, but a comment that there was no expectation of “showing” grief if it did not come naturally

        3) it was immediately clarified/understood that the workload of the decedents’ respective areas was going to be lowered for a while, and while these now-open roles would be filled eventually, we were putting individual needs ahead of filling the positions ASAP

        I know different cultures handle death differently – this was in the States, and the office was culturally heterogenous, for added context.

        1. LW3/OP3*

          I really appreciate these examples and it makes me more confident in the we have handled this so far in a respectful and appropriate way. The first weeks have really been “everyone decides if they prefer to work or not but any work delivered is a bonus and externally we are on paus”. After that period I have worked actively on getting back to normal conversations regarding our former team member as person after person have become more ready for it.

          While memorial services is for the family to control we have worked hard to prepare everyone close on what will happen and what will be communicated when.

          This might appear like we are rushing recruitment but in reality we are likely talking minimum 4 months before anyone joins if we had started recruitment today. So we will as a team have time before we get to welcome someone new but we also need to get started as onboarding and training also takes time.

          1. Momma Bear*

            My old company allowed everyone time off to attend the funeral, no questions asked. It was very generous of our CEO. We bascially shut down for the afternoon. Of course the family is in charge, but the option to attend was appreciated.

      3. Siege*

        I was sent on a temp assignment once and put in the office of a coworker who’d retired and then died unexpectedly before he’d come back to fully clean out the office (which is depressing as all hell). All the personal effects were out, but as a temp I didn’t need the file cabinets and drawers that were still full of his stuff. No one really realized the problem till we moved to a new building two years later. So, uh, don’t put a temp doing a totally different job in the space, and make sure it’s been cleaned out fully.

        1. LW3/OP3*

          Good point. We do however have free seating with a clean desk policy so that sort of solves a lot of the desk problems people bring up. Don’t know if it is good or bad, seem so easy for all physical traces of someone to disappear then.

    3. Sir Nose d'Voidoffunk*

      Agreed, and OP3 – I hope you’re doing OK and making time for your own grief. The suicide of someone you worked with closely must be a traumatic experience. You’re right to consider your coworkers’ feelings, but I hope you’re dealing with your own as well.

      1. Regular Reader*

        +1. Lost a colleague to suicide a few years back and reactions hit you when you least expect it, especially if you have been supporting others in the office who were closer to the colleague. She is still missed but we are at the stage of remembering the good times and the laughter. There was a lot of it. It happened just as the office was about to move locations. So nothing on the empty desk was cleared until the whole office was packing and then the possessions were returned to the family.

      2. LW3/OP3*

        Thank you for thinking of me too! I actually consciously reached out to HR for specialist support right after I got the news, both for me and for my team. It has definitely been rough, both personally for various reasons I can’t share here but also in that I am one of the few persons some of my team members have to open up to at the moment. So getting external specialized support has really been key as the allowed me to step back when I no longer had spoons left to be the rock for others so that I could give myself the time I needed too.

      3. LW3/OP3*

        Thank you! It has definitely been tough and I almost crashed at one point underestimating how difficult it was being the one everyone else chose to open up to. But thankfully we have received amazing trauma support that HR has arranged.

    4. Observer*

      I hope OP3 gets a chance to read the article about the team that drove off anyone who tried to replace their deceased coworker (in the “you may also like” section above) – it should give them some tools to head off that sort of dysfunction before it starts, and give everyone an easier transition.

      I thought of that. But as others have noted, that team was just bonkers. AND the management was beyond bad. While the OP fell down on the job, at least they had the sense to reach out for help when they realized that things had gone waaay off the deep end. But the overall management there was just stupid and incompetent.

      Keep in mind that *THREE* people quit without notice in less than a year, and the OP never thought to question it – they thought that the job was “too hard” even though two of the people who walked were internal hires who DID know what they were walking into, workwise, and who had a track record of being able to do relevant work. Worse, HR *knew* about the problem, but did nothing about it, and never brought it up to the OP until the 4th candidate THREATENED TO QUIT rather be forced to take the job.

      So it’s kind of hard to see what lessons THIS letter writer could take from that mess.

      PS I wonder what happened there in the long term.

      1. Observer*

        Well, actually there IS one lesson, but it’s something that the OP is already aware of. ie Pay attention to how people are reacting to the situation and try to make it easier for people to not get stuck into a mold of “Old Worker’s job”.

      2. LW3/OP3*

        While our company is not perfect we actually have some amazing people at HR and a very conscious genuine caring culture with clear realistic expectations and clear boundaries between work and non-work hours. There are other things that complicates this but overall I think our team is very different. Just the part that we have actively train the rest of the organisation to respect when we need to pause any and all incoming new tasks whenever we have been overwhelmed, is an advantage right now when I was able to easily remove the pressure to deliver immediately and everyone knew that they could count on me standing by my word and that it would be enforced.

  7. ChrisZ*

    #1, are your significant overtime hours being compensated while the golfers are drinking at their new bar after perfecting their swings at their new simulator?? If not, perhaps a large number of the non-golfers are discovering it’s just not possible to keep working all that overtime. Just a thought.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      They don’t have money for merit raises, but they do have money for executive toys and a bar. This tells us where the priorities lie. That they love golf, and the toy is a golf simulator, is secondary.

      1. ferrina*

        Depending on the amount of people at the company, it could be that the bar/simulator is significantly cheaper than even a 1% merit raise…..but the fact that no one thought about the optics means no one is thinking about the experience of folks that aren’t golfers. Don’t be at a company where no one thinks about you.

  8. Friendly neighborhood spiderman*

    I work in retail while I finish up school. We have this rewards program, and all you need to do is put your phone number in and you get the rewards. Sometimes people will say “I’m not a member but my Mom/sister/wife is, can I use her number?” (weirdly, it is always men asking this question I have no idea why). And I’d always reply “You could put in the Queen of England’s number if you wanted to.” Always got a chuckle.

    When the Queen died, I didn’t find out until a few hours after, when a customer went “it’s rude to speak ill of the dead.” And I went “Hey she’s not dead yet.” Which was the wrong thing to say because then I was treated to a diatribe about kids these days, can’t even be bothered to follow current events. (I was working, the world could have ended and I wouldn’t have noticed until the customers stopped showing up.)

    Anyway the point of the story is that the English royalty occupy this weird niche in the American cultural zeitgeist. They’re public figures yes, so people regularly make jokes about them. But because they’re royalty, people feel the need to respect them more then they do say Justin Bieber or other mainstream celebrities. So a joke that would be a little off color in reference to Justin Bieber is suddenly much more offensive when it’s made about the Queen of England, even if the person making the joke sort of puts them in the same mental bucket. But like objectively speaking Justin Bieber’s worst offense is extremely mild in comparison to the royal institution. I don’t know maybe it’s an extension of don’t talk about politics at work?

    1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

      It’s odd to give such stature to the British monarchy in the U.S., and there are many countries who have no reason to love them. The woman who overreacted to the joke should treat everyone in the office as she did before, and perform her duties.

      1. Friendly neighborhood spiderman*

        Oh for sure. I was just trying to put into words how odd it is, because some Americans get genuinely offended and I really don’t understand why. I understand the British having strong opinions, or the Irish, or Indians, or Zimbabweans, or (honestly if I listed every former British colony we’d be here all night). But like we declared independence two centuries ago! We’ve been more or less free of British rule for 2 centuries! I couldn’t tell you who the president of Zimbabwe is, and yet somehow I know through sheer cultural osmosis the names of every single royal grandkid. It’s rather silly.

        If anyone is wondering, the President of Zimbabwe is Emmerson Mnangagwa.

        1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

          I can’t fathom it. One of my friends developed an obsession with them and has no link to the British Isles whatsoever. I’ve shut down conversations with her as they become strangely pointed. If I have to pick a monarch, it’s Margrethe II, and I don’t care for monarchy.

          1. Timothy (TRiG)*

            Margrethe II illustrated Tolkien books, and just generally seems to be a smart and talented lady. Apparently she also created her own royal cypher, which is one of the more elegant ones. (Linus Boman made a video recently about royal cyphers. Charles III has a nice one. His mother’s was quite boring, to be honest.)

          2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            I love studying the history of it all! Though I am more interested in it starting back to Alfred the Great and through the Plantagenets and the Tudors, the Stuarts and the period of the Commonwealth, the house of Hanover and Queen Victoria. After that time I still follow the history and find it interesting, but my interest lags more as they stopped having as much power and political influence. Because in all honesty, the changes to their role as rulers are a big part of my interest, and the actual political workings of those time periods. I think Elizabeth I did an amazing job as a monarch as that role is now understood to be. But it’s just not as relevant to the aspects of history I am really interested in.

            To me, they are really basically a form of celebrity and perhaps a cultural and unifying symbol for many British people and people from Commonwealth nations. But they aren’t worth getting obsessed over!

            1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

              Also, yes, I am aware that Victoria had far less power than Elizabeth I, for example. I am fascinated by studying how that power and that role as a monarch changed over time.

        2. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, looking from Ireland, I was thinking it was a good thing Kate wasn’t here that week. Not that I heard much particularly offensive, but yeah, the joke William made wouldn’t even register here. Sinn Féin officially told their party membership to be sensitive because some of their supporters would say way worse than “hey, a 73 year old man starting a job nearly 10 years after most people retire, ha ha.”

          1. ferrina*

            When I read that letter, I mentally started replaying all the jokes I’d seen on British TV….. the joke from the letter was so tame it barely registered.

          2. workswitholdstuff*

            I thought their response was quite nicely measured too ‘We’re not going to attend any of the ceremonial aspects of a change in monarchy, cos well, we don’t believe monarchy is a valid concept, but as a person, we can pay our respects for what she did’

        3. Jackalope*

          Totally agree. I have a zillion hot takes on the subject of Americans obsessing over royals (I’m American) but I’ll restrain myself to saying that if nothing else, the idea that people shouldn’t be able to lightly joke about the British monarchy for fear of being disrespectful to the king or queen is so wild to me that I almost find it offensive. We…sort of fought a war over this once upon a time?

    2. MK*

      Yeah, no. I don’t approve of monarchy, but I respect British people’s feelings regarding their head of state (and regarding the actual royals I am more sorry for them than anything else). But if a person has no connection with a country, their stanning a royal of that country isn’t any different than their being a fan of any other celebrity. That being said, I would assume someone as unreasonable as Kate may well have the same attitude if she was a Justin Bieber fan

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        As a British person who would gladly abolish our monarchy and who lived in the US, it’s interesting how you never seem to encounter Americans who are really into (for example) the Thai monarchy or the Dutch monarchy, only our lot. (I’m sure that someone who’s a big fan of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander will shortly show up to disprove this remark, though.)

        1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

          I live in the U.S., and I wear daisy jewellery for Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.*

          *I do not.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I like Margrethe II as well… originally because I liked seeing her age gracefully on coins of various issue dates when I visited Denmark. I know she’s not the only one to update portraits on coinage, but it really struck me at the time.

        2. allathian*

          It’s probably something to do with the “special relationship” between the UK and the US. The US was a part of the British Empire until the Revolution, so that’s perhaps another reason for it. There are no historic ties like that to the Thai monarchy, or the Dutch or Swedish, etc. monarchies.

          I’m in Finland, and even here the British monarchy seems to get the largest amount of publicity, followed by the Swedish one. Granted, in recent years a lot has happened in the British monarchy with weddings, births, and funerals, not to mention the upcoming coronation… Our interest in the Swedish monarchy is certainly at least partly explained by the fact that we were a part of the Kingdom of Sweden between 1249 and 1809. There’s no czar in Russia anymore, if there were we’d no doubt be following the Russian Royals with interest as well, thanks to Finland having been a Russian Grand Duchy between 1809 and 1917.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            The joke is always that it’s only the British who think it’s a “special relationship”, the Americans say that they have a special relationship with lots of countries. The shared language probably helps to explain the popularity of the British monarchy in the US. Plus, we go all out on the ceremonial stuff and that’s interesting to Americans because its different to their culture.

            Whenever I ran into an American who loved the British monarchy, I’d always think (but not say) “didn’t your country fight a war to get rid of the monarchy?” I don’t think even the Americans who really like the monarchy would want the King to be their head of state, though!

            1. Pennyworth*

              The war was initially about being forced to pay tax to Britain, who knows what the outcome would have been if King George had backed down and said never mind about the tax.

                1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

                  I have some gallows humor with Hamilton King George III…he wasn’t wrong.

        3. bamcheeks*

          Exceptionally good PR by Queen Victoria, who basically did in the 19th century what the Kardashians did in the 00s and turned the whole family into a public, celebrity spectacle, mimicking the structures and affections of the developing bourgeois family but with exciting twists (so much money! A woman with more power than her husband!) And somehow it’s lasted nearly two centuries.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              I once got into quite a spat on the internet with someone who claimed Prince Albert “invented” Christmas trees. All I will say is that he did bring the tradition with him from Germany at a time when it was not common in the anglophone part of the world, and that Christmas trees make for very pretty and romantic visuals if one wants to show off their family life.

        4. Phryne*

          Crown Prince Willem-Alexander has been King Willem-Alexander since 2013…
          Not a particular fan personally though. I guess my stance towards out monarchy is that it is an outdated institution but oh, well, they are relatively harmless* and switching back to a republic would be expensive, so…

          *When WA came to the throne pretty much the last political functions the royals had were abolished. He is the head of state, but he is a purely symbolic one. If we would ever abolish the monarchy, we would probably replace it with a system like the German president anyway, not the US or French one.

          1. Emmy Noether*

            For anyone wondering: the German president is the formal head of state (giving speeches, greeting foreign dignitaries, signing things…), but holds no actual power. He/she is elected, but indirectly.

            The person with the power is the chancellor, though even he/she is more limited than the US or French president are.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              That sounds very like Ireland actually. Our president is the head of state and holds no power (isn’t even supposed to comment on politics) and our taoiseach is the head of government and the equivalent to the German Chancellor or UK Prime Minister. Our last president described it to a bunch of school children as “it’s the easiest job I’ve ever had. The poor old taoiseach has to do all the hard stuff and I get to do all the fun stuff.”

              1. Irish Teacher*

                Our president is directly elected though and because policy doesn’t come in to it, it usually is “who seems like the nicest person?” and/or “who did the state good service in the past?” It’s often a semi-retired politician and it’s almost a way of honouring them, though we had two youngish women in the role (in their 40s) in the 90s and the early years of the millennium and the first of them, Mary Robinson is generally agreed to have been “our best president ever.”

            2. Phryne*

              Indeed. In the Netherlands, the king is the head of state, but the most powerful person is the prime minister, who is supplied by the biggest party in parliament. But the PM can not singlehandedly decide important things, that power lies with the government and parliament.

            3. UKDancer*

              Yeah, if I had a choice I’d go for the German approach over the UK one myself. I think having a small figurehead elected separately from the political leader is a good idea. I liked Joachim Gauke better than Franz-Walter personally, but think the system works quite well as a whole.

          2. The Prettiest Curse*

            You are correct about Willem Alexander and his current job title, sorry. This is what I get for trying to look up facts on the Dutch monarchy at 6am before having caffeine. (Fun fact: their Queen retired, and good for her.)

            1. Phryne*

              I imagine if you google crown prince of the Netherlands all you get is him, as he was preceded by four queens and will be followed by a queen, he has been the only male in that function in well over a century.

        5. Malarkey01*

          I think it’s because most of us share the same language so we could read or listen to all the British monarchy coming and going and understand what’s happening. I actually find the Japanese royal family fascinating (there’s a big mix between extreme tradition and modernization), but unless it’s a big time story there’s very little in English being written or said and I can’t read the local news.

      2. Friendly neighborhood spiderman*

        I completely agree. I think I was trying to explain that some people felt that way, not like the entire American public. Some people think of them as celebrities, others as worthy of a lot of respect, and those people have very strong opinions, and if you get into it with them then you’re rehashing decades of colonialism, so it’s easier to just talk about Game of Thrones or whatever it is people discuss at water coolers.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      That’s fairly similar to how it is in Britain too. They’re commonly fair game for jokes (the joke featured in the letter is pretty mild compared to the type of jokes you’d see in tabloids or a remark on a gameshow) but then you will get people who react badly (and personally) to that too. It’s not a great look at work tbh.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yep. It wasn’t uncommon to see jokes on British TV about Charles actively plotting to bump off his mum to get the job…

        Hope Kate never saw them :D

        1. Madame Arcati*

          Omg imagine if she’d heard that joke Frankie Boyle made on Mock The Week that time, about the Queen – even some British people thought that was a bit near the knuckle; Kate would have passed out from sheer horror!

          1. Lilo*

            I mean, Frankie Boyle is so well known for his off color jokes, I actually can’t name which one you’re talking about.

              1. Timothy (TRiG)*

                It somehow became even funnier when Emily Maitlis quoted it the next day on Newsnight, covering the manufactured outrage of certain tabloids. (No one who actually watched Mock the Week was outraged, I imagine.)

          2. ferrina*

            Frankie Boyle is immediately where my mind leapt! Kate would have conniptions seeing one of his bits.

      2. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yeah. As a rule, I would typically expect adults in positions of high power to be fair game for jokes.

        I think you it’s fair to set a line asking people to refrain from such jokes, but this reaction is WAY over the top.

    4. TechWorker*

      To be fair I think your original story was just very unlucky – you can’t be expected to follow the news of another country whilst you’re working (!) but joking about anyone when they’ve just died is in poor taste. If the customer was rude about it that’s on them.

    5. Ferret*

      Yeah, as a Republican English person I find the American fans of the royals especially weird – maybe the distance from the reality of it is why they seem to buy into the weird fairytale facade more? God knows how Kate would have reacted to my family groupchat.

    6. Timothy (TRiG)*

      The pedant in me wants to point out that you’re more than a little behind on current events, and that the last Queen of England certainly didn’t have a phone number, given that the title was abolished in 1707.

      1. Darsynia*

        I mean, that still follows the spirit of the joke, though? The point is that you could put anything in, they don’t care– and it’s not like anyone has the actual Queen’s number anyway.

    7. BubbleTea*

      We don’t actually know exactly when she died – it was several hours before they announced it. Daft of that customer to make a fuss about it.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        I’m not even sure that the joke counted as “speaking ill of” her, at least not in the way I’d understand the term. But yes, there are a lot of jobs where people wouldn’t have the opportunity to be getting news via their phones during work hours, this sounds like one of them, so yes I do think he made a bit much of it.

        (I believe the death certificate said something like 3.10pm UK time).

      2. londonedit*

        We do; she died at 3:10pm and it was announced just after 6:30pm. They released her death certificate (I particularly enjoyed the bit where under ‘Occupation’ it said ‘Her Majesty The Queen’. But yes, on that afternoon there was a lot of ‘I wonder whether she’s actually already died’ because while the news was still reporting the official line that doctors were ‘concerned for her health’, members of the Royal Family were arriving in Scotland wearing black and whatnot.

    8. Ben*

      It is utterly embarrassing how emotionally invested some Americans are in the British royal family. Unfortunately, knowing that some people do harbor those odd feelings, you really can’t make comments about them without being willing to take a political stance. Personally, I am fine with that, because I think it’s actually borderline offensive for people to demand that I show piety towards another country’s unelected head of state, especially one who lives in splendor from the stolen wealth of countries that suffer to this day as a result. It’s good politics to make fun of them; they’re fortunate if that’s the worst thing that happens to them! But ultimately it may be taken as a political statement that, for asinine reasons, might upset someone.

  9. Tiny Orchid*

    OP 3, if there’s a way to shuffle tasks around so nobody has the exact same job as the deceased coworker, that might also help with hiring someone, so you’re not looking for an exact replacement.

    1. LW3/OP3*

      We will definitely be doing that. We have multiple persons with the same role anyway who are used to taking over tasks from each other and anytime we have a new hire I shudder things around depending on strengths, development plans and interests. So thankfully this is quite common for us.

      1. Cheshire Cat*

        I am sorry that you and your employees are dealing with this.

        At my last job, a very well-liked colleague died suddenly in a traffic accident. The managers in my department took a number of steps that prevented us from falling into the mindset of the employees who kept running off new hires (linked above, and yes, I thought about that letter at the time!)

        First, they closed the office the day of Jane’s funeral so we could all go to it. A few days later, they held a group session with a grief counsellor for anyone who wanted to attend. It was cathartic and turned into a work-related memorial service for Jane.

        After that, they left her position open for several months to give everyone time to grieve. There was a small library of work-related reference books in an extra cubicle, and that was moved to Jane’s former spot; someone made a small sign for it that said something like “The Jane Doe Memorial Library.” And lastly, they shuffled job duties around so the new person’s role was not the same as Jane’s had been.

        I realize you may not have be able to wait to hire a replacement, or have available space like my old company did. But as a whole, it felt like management was really respectful of everyone’s feelings, and of Jane’s memory as well.

  10. A.N. O’Nyme*

    LW2…you really need to talk to Kate ASAP. This genuinely doesn’t even come on the radar as one of the most potentially offensive to royalist jokes if I’m honest – I take it Kate managed to avoid Commonwealth Twitter when the Queen died?

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      I know I saw variations of William’s joke doing the rounds on social media in the early days after the Queen died (I’m in the UK) – from what I remember I saw more responses along the lines of laughing emojis and don’t remember anyone calling the joke out (although I acknowledge that I could have just not seen it, and also that there will have been people who didn’t think it was funny but chose to scroll on by and ignore it rather than argue about it on Facebook).

      1. bamcheeks*

        I mean, it’s like the absolutely mildest thing you can say about them, to the extent that I’m not even sure it registers as a “joke” rather than a statement of fact. “Poor Charles, having to wait until his seventies to start the role he’s been prepared for all his life” is something that sympathetic pro-royalists say.

        1. geek5508*

          The joke I heard up until recently was that Prince Charles’ resume` consisted of the phrase “Waiting for Mommy to die”…

    2. Alexandra*

      Honestly, I’d be more than a little concerned about the overall judgment of someone who feels that strongly about the monarchy. I guess colonialism is A-okay by them?

      1. A.N. O’Nyme*

        I’m not entirely sure I’d immediately jump to that conclusion – it’s entirely possible the colonialism doesn’t even occur to her. Like others have mentioned she seems to have a very romanticised idea of the British monarchy and treats them more like a teenager treats their favourite band.

        1. Gerry Keay*

          If someone has gotten to adulthood without colonialism even occurring to them when thinking about the monarchy, then even more reason to be concerned about their judgement and general awareness of, uh, the entire history of the world.

          1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            Oh I think we all (well, mostly all) agree that this woman’s judgment is questionable at best!

    3. Observer*

      you really need to talk to Kate ASAP. This genuinely doesn’t even come on the radar as one of the most potentially offensive to royalist jokes if I’m honest

      I think that you are right, but it’s still the wrong thing to focus on. He could have said something much, much worse and Kate’s reaction would still be a problem here.

      The OP should not be getting into “you can’t take a joke” territory here. They should focus on the fact that this is part of the job. And “Take it or leave it” should be strongly implied.

  11. learnedthehardway*

    OP#5 – it’s okay to explore. I wouldn’t apply for anything that you weren’t intrigued about, but it’s not a bad idea to have at least a screening interview (on the phone or by video) now and then, just to keep yourself aware of what is happening out there, what other companies are doing, what compensation ranges are looking like. Keeping your finger on the pulse of hiring can help you be aware of industry trends, even give you a feeling for how active the market is for your skill set.

    As long as you can say to a recruiter or the hiring manager that you’re not actively looking, but their role really caught your attention and you’d be open to learning more about it, that’s as committed as you need to be at the outset.

    If you were getting beyond an introductory conversation to a second or third interview, then you should be genuinely interested in the opportunity and company. Not that you’re obligated to accept the role if offered, but don’t just be kicking tires after the first conversation.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This is what I do. I search for jobs with a title that would be a step up for me and see what’s out there once in awhile. Know the market, the salaries, the skills I want to hone to be competitive when I’m ready to move up. If great opportunities present themselves I might apply, but I usually don’t. It’s good to stay informed either way.

  12. Darkitect*

    LW1: I worked in a company like that for several years and seriously considered coughing up for private golf lessons. Golf was important to advancement in that organization (technical consulting) because a lot of client engagement and marketing occurred on the course. My recollection is that it was mostly men who golfed, but a fair number of women did as well; not too far off from the demographics of our industry.

    Long story short: I left that job, I still don’t know how to play golf, and am doing just fine! Different companies have different cultures and sometimes you need to shop around for a better fit.

    1. E*

      Yes came here to say this! Between the OT, lack of raises, and feeling excluded from culture you sound pretty soured on the company. Surprised Alison told you to take up golf rather than a job search. I think it’s time to bring your skills elsewhere!

      1. anonymous toadstool*

        I’m in a similar boat as LW#1 but the activity is drinking but taking up drinking is not an option, sigh. Sending solidarity thoughts.

    2. Lizzo*

      I know of at least one women-specific professional association that is offering accessible opportunities to learn how to golf. It’s a small but significant step in trying to eliminate barriers to women engaging in business. Depending on LW1’s industry, it might be worth seeing if an opportunity like this exists nearby.

  13. The Prettiest Curse*

    #2 – sorry, William, you now have to come to London and fight a duel with Jacob Rees-Mogg for insulting the honour of the King. ;)

    I’m British, lived in the US for a long time and would like to see the monarchy abolished. Working with someone like Kate would have frankly been my worst nightmare, and what she is doing is weird and unacceptable. However, the royal family can make its super-fans excessively pompous about even very minor criticism or tasteless jokes that would be totally fine aimed at any other celebrity. People who are really into the royals can come to see them not as celebrities of which they are a super-fan, but as part of their own family. (I think it’s partly due to the fact that it’s often the whole family that they like, not just one or two people.)

    Kate reacted to William’s joke like he was insulting her father or grandfather, not a largely ceremonial monarch in a foreign country. It’s a strange mindset to have, but the royal family make people strange.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      British non royalists meeting American royalists makes for the oddest of exchanges, I think. I was in the states for the first time with a boyfriend when Diana died, and we had occasions with a few people who would hear our accents and rush over to us for our reaction so we could grieve together. It was awkward to say that while I thought the whole thing was very tragic, particularly for her sons, we weren’t necessarily going to be crying and hugging together today.

      1. UKDancer*

        Can confirm this is odd. My parents were in Italy when the queen died. They were at a restaurant as news spread. They were surrounded by a group of Americans who heard the English accents and came over wanting to share their grief. My parents are not royalist and not particularly into sharing feelings with strangers in general. So the conversation was a bit awkward.

          1. UKDancer*

            My mother said she felt like she was trapped in a bad TV candid camera show and desperately wanted to escape and just end the conversation without offending the really nice group of people who were trying to empathise with the loss they thought British people felt but before my father said something rude about the royal family. In retrospect very funny indeed.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Honestly, when I asked two of my British friends for their perspective, I did it just like that. Like, “hey guys, we have been reading about the queen’s death and Charles becoming king over here, and I wanted to hear what you guys think about everything. Do you think he will be a good king?” I mean, I would never go up to strangers and offer condolences based on their accents!

          1. Ellis Bell*

            I don’t think it’s a very common thing character trait, we were just in some large touristy crowds and got lucky?!

            1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

              I am glad you do not think it is common. I am often embarrassed when I read stories about the way certain Americans act abroad (and this one is not even all that bad).

              1. Ellis Bell*

                No it’s actually sweet in an awkwardly awesome way; there are also Brits who have the royal fixation so when you meet an American one you know what’s happening, and it’s like “awww you think you’ve found your people….but no!”

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        Oh yeah, when Americans would tell me they loved the royals and I’d tell them that I didn’t, it just did not compute with them at all. I’m sure they knew in theory that there were British people who don’t like the monarchy, but they just never expected to meet one!

        1. bamcheeks*

          Every single survey for about a hundred years has found about a quarter of us actively identify as republicans and want to abolish the monarchy– not even just ~luke-warm~ about them! It’s been genuinely alarming to me over the last few weeks how invisible that opposition to the monarchy is.

          1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            Yeah, I haven’t heard so much over here about opposition (though I know well it exists and is felt very strongly by many), but I definitely assumed a high level of indifference and assumed adoration was a fairly limited minority!

        2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I’ve always assumed a lot of Brits don’t like the monarchy and that an even greater number are entirely indifferent to them! I think some of my fellow Americans have watched and internalized a little too much Downton Abbey (and I am a fan too and love a lot of British television shows, but seriously people!).

      3. Bagpuss*

        Yes, my sister moved to work in the states a couple of years after Diana died, and had one coworker who gushed about how emotional it was to hear her speak because it was ‘just like Diana’ (my sister’s voice and accent are *nothing* like Diana’s, and it was definitely weird, especially as her death wasn’t recent at the time)

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          For some reason, people at work think I sound like the Queen when I talk.

          I sound nothing like the Queen when I talk.

      4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        While I admit that I would never react like this, I do think everyone had a stronger response to Diana because she had such a rough divorce and difficult experience with the royal family, because she was young and killed in good part due to paparazzi chasing her like loons, and because she left those two young boys behind. The queen died at a good old age and had a strong reign and a seemingly good life. I have asked some British friends their thoughts (one admitted she was more affected than she expected by the queen’s death), but I was hardly thinking “let’s hug and cry this out together,” even when Diana died!

    2. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      As a non-Brit living in London, I was fascinated by the range of reactions I saw to her death. It was a lot more emotion than I anticipated (on both sides of the spectrum).

      1. Lilo*

        I was honestly surprised when people treated it like it was a tragedy. She was a woman in her 90s who had a very nice life and seemed to be capable and comfortable up right to her death. I think that’s basically how everyone hopes their life will go.

        1. BubbleTea*

          I didn’t find it tragic but I found it very unsettling. She had been Queen such a long time. She’s on the stamps, the money, the TV at Christmas… it’s just a bit odd when something changes like that.
          I spent at least as long feeling unsettled and sad when Freya the walrus died though. Maybe I’m just sensitive.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            I will feel this way when Willie Nelson dies.

            I emailed my brother awhile back to tell him that I’m worried that my nephew a) will never see Willie perform live and b) if he does, will be too young to remember it. Brother replied, “These are the things that keep Texans awake at night.”

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              Oh, I love that Willie Nelson is the Texas equivalent of the Queen. That’s just delightful, and I’d swap him for the royals any time!

              1. Calamity Janine*

                and shifting slightly towards Appalachia, there will be loud calls of mourning – which i will join in – when Dolly Parton finally ascends this mortal plane.

                …quite frankly i think all of my UK friends will spend far more anguish and grief on her than they did ol’ Lizzie, by at least a factor of ten, lol

          2. londonedit*

            Yeah I didn’t view it as a tragedy, and I’m not in any way a monarchist, but it was and still is unsettling simply because she’d been Queen for 70 years, and because of the sheer breadth of stuff it affects that we’re going to encounter in everyday life here in the UK whether you’re a monarchist or not. Money, stamps, the words of the National Anthem, post boxes, who’s on TV at 3pm on Christmas Day, the fact that judges are now KC rather than QC, so you hear that on the news…none of that stuff had changed since my parents were small children and now it’ll all be different, even if some of it hasn’t happened yet.

        2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Yeah, I did not see too much treating it like a tragedy (but I honestly also did not binge watch the news over it). More “end of an era” style commemoration. Diana rang as more of a tragedy, which makes sense, since she shouldn’t have died so young or in that way, and with two young sons still growing up.

    3. Calamity Janine*

      honestly i’m not sure i would have even reacted this badly to a joke on that level of insult about my father or grandfather!

      sure, that’s because my grandfather was quite a jokester and probably would have followed that joke up with something far more mean in his own direction, but still. it’s a wildly out of proportion reaction.

      if it’s enough of a problem to refuse to work for a manager, then it’s a big enough problem that you need to Make It A Problem enough to reach a solution. yeah that often means a direct confrontation. but that’s how you get the issue actually solved. either you get told you’re in the wrong, or the other person’s in the wrong definitively, or you’re both wrong, and either way you have arrived at the stage of the conflict where you are able to reach a resolution. apologies to each other, or a formal HR complaint, or what have you. it’s how you reach the offramp – even if you’re getting off that road in order to escalate the problem.

      this kind of silent treatment and weird boycott shows some truly strange instances of unprofessional conduct. if it’s a big deal, then treat it like an actual big deal; if it’s not, then just drop it. yes, this is the conflict equivalent of ‘shit or get off the pot’, but really, that’s where Kate is at right now. she’s not even on the pot. she’s just in the bathroom sitting on the floor while the shower is on full-tilt as some sort of protest that she will continue running up the water bill until her desires are met (but will not yell through the door about what those demands are!).

      this will be very mean of me to say but: i think at this point Kate is using it as an easy dodge in order to ignore work. because if you’re too busy nailing yourself to a cross as martyr to the honor of somebody who truly doesn’t care about you (or even really care that you exist), well, it means your hands aren’t free to use your keyboard to do your work… guess it’s time to rewatch that netflix special instead…

      …if Kate is trying to convince everyone that she doesn’t do anything of note in the office and everyone can adjust around her not doing a large part of her stated job duties, i think maybe she needs to worry about what happens when she succeeds in that goal!

  14. AnonForThis*

    OP3, it sounds like you have a supportive environment and team. One of my coworkers recently passed away, it isn’t discussed, and I can’t take paid time off to go to therapy. It’s been rough.

    1. OP3*

      Sorry to hear that, that definitely shouldn’t be how it is. I have been very firm towards our stakeholders in the rest of the company that processing this needs to take its time and while not everyone has respected that most have. And we have had amazing support from HR all along together with proper processes for proactive crisis management support that is automatically offered to everyone close to something like that.

      When horrible things happen, that is when you really get to see how your employer values and views oneself.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        “When horrible things happen, that is when you really get to see how your employer values and views oneself.”

        When there are multiple unexpected deaths of high profile employees in a calendar year (this was pre-pandemic, for context. Accidents and sudden silent illnesses), and its recognized by a “moment of silence” at a manager’s-only retreat, lets just say there was a lot of “hmmmm….they gave so much for this company and get recognition for half a minute at an upper management retreat…gotta wonder if its worth it man” from attendees. Probably didn’t help that they rolled out our wonderful time-tracking software that week, where all tasks were scaled to a 40 hour week (45-50 in my industry is standard).

  15. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (suicide) – if I was the interviewee and heard this I couldn’t help wondering if it was work related or at least exacerbated. I wouldn’t ask directly but would be sure to ask related questions about company culture, work life balance and so on.

    If the successful candidate doesn’t ask this, they need to be clued in to the situation ahead of starting the job.

    1. Myrin*

      Although Alison recommends simply saying “She died”, not “She committed suicide”. If a prospective employer told me the person before me died, “suicide” wouldn’t be the first (or second, or third) possibility in my mind, if I thought that far at all.

      1. Tricksie*

        Mental health professionals (at least in the US) now recommend saying “She died by suicide” and avoiding the word committed, just fyi in case you want to look into the language choice.

        1. Lilo*

          I also really want to push back in the idea that the workplace must have been at fault. That’s just a mass over simplification and it’s cruel to LW to suggest this. I lost a coworker to suicide and it would have been very hurtful to imply we somehow caused it.

          1. to varying degrees*

            I agree. Even speculating that the office had a part in this person’s death is just really….icky. Like you said, it oversimplifies the situation and is a burden on the office and employees that is simply not fair.

            However I do think sharing with the hire, after they have started, that the person died by suicide (quietly and briefly) is the right thing to do since it seems to be a “known” thing in the office. I would feel differently if it was not public knowledge though.

            1. Lunar Caustic*

              Yes, if everyone in the office knows what happened except the new hire, that’s going to get weird really fast. A friend of mine was hired to replace an employee who was known around the workplace to have died by suicide and they informed him of the story privately after he was hired. It would have made things very difficult for him to not have that context when everyone else did.

        2. Myrin*

          I’m not a native English speaker and not in an English-speaking country, so I had no idea! Thanks for pointing that out!

    2. Lilo*

      I actually think this isn’t a good idea, as it violates the privacy of the coworker in question.

      I had a friend was lost like that and it’s really really complicated. I recommend looking up guidelines on how to discuss suicide and how to respect the person who died.

      1. Venus*

        I agree. Mental illness is an illness, and health details don’t need to be shared. It’s fair to say that they died and were found by coworkers so it is a sensitive situation that is traumatic for some.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      Why would saying the previous person in the position died make anyone wonder if they died because of work?

      1. Observer*


        We’ve lost a few coworkers over the years. None of them to suicide. That’s a really weird place to jump to.

    4. LW3/OP3*

      I can calm you down with that I always bring up work-life balance and how we work as a team to make sure we have a good environment that allows people to take time off or be ill without having to worry about their responsibilities and tasks. For me that is an important part in making sure we hire the right type of persons. The superstar/rockstar type doesn’t work here and will not enjoy it and therefor it is important that we give the right impression.

      So, that will be covered regardless. But yes, I will definitely be using the suggestion in Alison’s response above to clue anyone that starts in on what has happened. Without touching the how part.

  16. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP4 (demotion) – I wish demotion was a “natural” option in the way that a promotion is, but we aren’t there and I think you’d be setting up this manager for failure demoting them to be a member of a team that they were supposed to be managing.

    The only times I’ve seen this work out well are when the demotion was a “diagonal” move rather than to become a subordinate of the position that they were demoted from. Or when it was openly stated that so-and-so had decided to step back from management as they preferred to be hands on as an individual contributor (or some similar wording).

    The other thing to think about is whether your hiring/screening process needs a revisit – how was this able to happen and multiple people (sounds like) didn’t pick up on her incompetence as a manager until she was actually in the job. Are you (collectively) asking the right things in interviews?

    1. Artemesia*

      Demotion can work when an internal hire is not a good fit and there are ways to spin that positively. It is unlikely to work when you make a poor initial hire.

      1. Llama Llama*

        I agree. Demotions are for when someone was a good fit before and had proved themselves but the manager level was not for them. This person doesn’t sound like they can do the basics.

        1. JustaTech*

          I’ve seen it described in tech as “going back to being an individual contributor” and it’s nice that some places understand that not everyone wants to be in management (or is any good at it).

          But if it’s an external hire that’s a lot harder to do.

    2. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I would also like to see a convo about how this manager got hired. I’m at a new workplace and we are hiring again and I’m hearing all the stories of bad hires and their impact on the team. It has left me wondering if I’m a bad hire in some way, if they are just bad at hiring, if this is just the way it goes sometimes, etc.

      1. Siege*

        My organization excels at bad hiring, and I felt the way you did for a while. The short answer, without digging into weeds I don’t want to get into, is that I’m a good hire, in a round of hiring that had no bad candidates that fit the mold that would have made them the preferred candidate. Other applicants to the job in my round were much less skilled than me, so I can say that I’m a good hire. And we do occasionally manage good hires!

    3. BL73*

      You can ask the right things in interviews and still end up with a bad hire. Some people are amazingly good at selling themselves. I hired someone who presented well in the interview, hit all the behavioral questions on the mark, and his references were glowing about him. About 6 months into the role I realized he was a manipulative narcissist. It had nothing to do with our hiring process.

      Demotions can work when it’s an internal promotion but not if you’ve brought someone in from outside the organization. In this case, terminate her and move on.

      1. starsaphire*

        Agreed, and after seeing the “bulldozer” comment, my first thought was, “She must have BSed her way into this job in the first place.”

        Never hurts to reflect on the hiring process, but there are a LOT of these types out there, who interview great and hit all the marks, and then you hire them and find out they’re just world-class at faking it.

      2. Siege*

        We also hired a malignant narcissist (she’s apparently still arguing that probationary periods aren’t real so she can’t have been fired) due to a combo of a poor pool and her being a certain kind of candidate. She didn’t even do well in the interview! I think it’s useful to pay attention to past hiring to determine what the result of the process is, as well as pay attention to the process. This person was hired despite two of four interviewers saying she shouldn’t be, including one person who’d worked with her previously warning that she was gonna do what she in fact did.

  17. spread the love*

    OP3 – Is there a possibility you could hire more than one person for the vacant role? That way any emotions aren’t focused on one particular person.

    1. LW3/OP3*

      I wouldn’t normally but I have some other changes in the team at the same time so I will actually be able to do it this time. I also think that will help as we also in a way will be a slightly different team in general and not just due to the passing of our colleague.

  18. Irishgal*

    I’ve mixed feelings regarding the advice and comments about the King Charles joke. In a bullying and harassment situation it doesn’t matter if the joke was intended as such if the person felt bullied or discriminated against as a result they have a right to raise it so I think we need to be carful on the commentary about it being harmless etc

    That said, Kate should be spoken to. She should be asked what the problem is with William, she should be asked if she wants to take the matter further in line with any company policies and assuming her answer is no then she should be told that her behaviour is unacceptable.

    Also to the Op, it is not good management behaviour to wait until a persons review to raise issues, that’s not the point of an annual review. Issues should be raised as soon as they become evident to give the person the best chance to rectify their behaviour. Waiting effectively looks like you are ok with it and then blindsides then months down the line.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I honestly can’t see how that remark could be objectively construed as bullying or harassment at all. If he was having a pop at her personally, yeah, even a joke about her mug collection…. possibly, but this was not a remark about her at all, but about a person in another country entirely. If she “feels bullied and discriminated against” that wasn’t at all forseeable, so she could begin by saying “I find that really offensive, could you just not?” and there would have been some awkwardness but her wishes could have been respected from that point onwards. Throwing all your toys out of the pram immediately, and sulking, is not someone who is dealing in good faith with others.

    2. bamcheeks*

      I can’t imagine that this would get anywhere near a claim of bullying and harassment. Somebody wanting to claim a pattern of bullying based on would need to establish a pattern of consistent behaviour, unless it was something based on a protects characteristic which “being weird about the British monarch” is not.

    3. Artemesia*

      An inane comment about King Charles not even made to this ridiculous Kate is not bullying. And no because ‘she feels that way’ doesn’t make it so. There are plenty of employees who define being managed as bullying as well, but it doesn’t make it so.

    4. BRR*

      But this isn’t a bullying and harassment situation and even if it was, Kate was not the one being bullied or harassed. She should certainly not be asked if she wants to take the matter further.

    5. FashionablyEvil*

      Bullying, harassment, and discrimination are all waaaaaay overshooting the mark here. We are talking about one mildly tasteless joke and a wildly disproportionate response. William should remember to not make jokes about the monarchy in front of Kate and Kate should remember that not everyone feels the same way she does about the monarchy and then everyone should move on. This is not a hard situation! We don’t need to make it one!

    6. Irish Teacher*

      I don’t think a one-off joke that was not about Kate in any way and does not touch on any discriminatory issues, like mocking people for their size or their race or their gender, could be considered bullying or harrassment. Now, if William were constantly making comments about the royals just to “get a rise out of Kate” because he knew she admired them, that would be different, but a throwaway comment with a joke that was going around at the time…I don’t think so.

      I do see that ageism is a form of discrimination but I don’t think that pointing out that 73 is generally past the age of retirement is really ageism. It is possible culture comes in to this as Ireland only made a law against requiring people to retire at 65/66 a few weeks ago. Until then, it was pretty common for companies not only to not hire anybody over 65, but to require people to retire then. And in fact, on social media a lot of people have been complaining about the change (people can retire at 66 and get the current pension rate or they can choose to work for longer, up to the age of 70 and for each additional year, they can get a higher pension when they do retire) because some people feel it puts pressure on people to work for longer. So it may be that a comment about 73 being old to start a job would be seen a little differently in the US than how I would read it.

    7. Emmy Noether*

      It’s good to be sensitive to this, but there have to be limits.

      If I hear a joke that is not in any way, shape or form about me or directed at me or about a protected class or even general group I belong to, I cannot claim to be bullied or harassed by it. It does have to be somewhat reasonable, and the line has to be drawn somewhere, lest all those crying “slippery slope” about any harassment claims be proved right.

      (Maybe *this* is how the completely humorless office from a letter some time ago originated?!)

    8. Shirley Keeldar*

      The thing is, it was raised. Kate told William she didn’t like his joke and William apologized. (Not the best apology, we’re told, but I can see William being taken aback by Kate’s reaction and doing his best in the moment.) That’s not bullying or harassment by any stretch of the term. Sure, Kate’s allowed not to like William’s joke and she’s allowed to ask him not to joke like that around her—but that doesn’t mean she’s being bullied. She’s not. (Neither is Charles. Charles is fine.)

    9. Eldritch Office Worker*

      HR here – no. This is not bullying or harassment in any way, based on the facts presented.

    10. Observer*

      In a bullying and harassment situation it doesn’t matter if the joke was intended as such

      This is not a situation that one can remotely consider a bullying or harassment situation. I think that the legal standard here makes a lot of sense (even though LEGALLY it only applies to illegal behavior). ie Was the comment really bad – and not just to the person who heard it but to a reasonable person? Or is there a pattern of lower level issues, like someone constantly making tasteless jokes about whatever it is. Neither is the case here.

      it doesn’t matter if the joke was intended as such if the person felt bullied or discriminated against

      That’s actually not true. It’s true that intent is not magic but that doesn’t erase the fact that someone’s feelings are also not necessarily a barometer for what is or is not a problem.

      they have a right to raise it

      Which has nothing to do with the issue at hand. Kate is not “raising an issue”. To be honest, she’s acting like a toddler having a weeks long tantrum. In workplace terms, which are more useful to the OP, Kate is *refusing to do her job*.

      she should be asked if she wants to take the matter further in line with any company policies

      What policies would be involved here? Maybe I’m lacking imagination. But I simply cannot imagine a policy that would be related to the stupid joke that William made.

      it is not good management behaviour to wait until a persons review to raise issues, that’s not the point of an annual review. Issues should be raised as soon as they become evident to give the person the best chance to rectify their behaviour

      Agreed 100%!

      1. KateButNotThatOne*

        Agreed that this isn’t bullying, and no history of William bullying Kate was discussed in the letter, so there’s really nothing for her to take further. If it was part of a pattern to deliberately offend her, maybe. Even then probably it’s pushing to consider any kind of harassment claim or violation of company policies (although William would need a “don’t be a jerk” speech if there was a pattern). And no matter what, refusing to do her job is not the solution.

        Also agreed that it needs to be raised now and not held until her review. One of my best managers once promised me that nothing on my review would be a surprise, and that seems like the best way to handle these. (Unless the employee did something egregious right before a review that threw off their ratings or something.)

    11. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

      Also to the Op, it is not good management behaviour to wait until a persons review to raise issues, that’s not the point of an annual review. Issues should be raised as soon as they become evident to give the person the best chance to rectify their behaviour. Waiting effectively looks like you are ok with it and then blindsides then months down the line.

      Well said.

    12. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Yeah, there was nothing bullying or harassing in that joke. If William had a habit of making jokes he knew Kate found offensive, even if others don’t, then maybe I could see a point, but even then, some of those jokes would have to be a bit more problematic than this one. And this really seems like a one time occurrence. Unless OP talks to Kate and learns of some other issue or an ongoing issue that means the joke wasn’t the cause or the snapping point for Kate after some genuinely bad behavior from William, then no. While I agree that someone’s failure to intend to be offensive does not excuse them for offensive behavior, behavior is not automatically rendered offensive because someone chooses to be offended!

    13. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      This was not bullying or harassment at all. And yes, I fully agree that in those situations and in many situations involving poor behavior, we need to not treat the lack of “intent” to offend someone as if it absolves the offender. But on the flip side, we also need to understand that someone calling a behavior “offensive” or being personally upset by it does not automatically render the behavior as genuinely offensive behavior (though it might be grounds once it is established that the person was offended and the offender continues to repeat the behavior despite clear communication to that effect).

  19. Educator*

    Every manager ever considering waiting until an annual review to discuss specific feedback—don’t wait! Reviews are not the place where employees should hear detailed feedback for the first time. This is not only because, as Alison points out, feedback needs to be timely, but also because giving detailed feedback for the first time in a review robs both the manager and employee of the opportunity to actually REVIEW much broader trends in the work—successes, areas for growth, potential next steps and development opportunities, etc. The review is such an important conversation when it is done well—it can really frame up the whole year—and managers should not rob their employees of that through their own procrastination.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Yes. A good manager said to me “If I surprise you with anything I say in this review, I haven’t been doing my job for the last 6 months.”

    2. Sunny days are better*

      Yes – I once had a manager who said “a performance review should encompass going over things that have come up before. There should never be any surprises in a performance review.”

      I’ve always remembered that and used it when I had people reporting to me.

    3. Pisces*

      Absolutely. Even more so if the conduct is something simple that can be rectified easily, and doesn’t merit going on a performance record.

      Some bosses don’t take the direct approach because they don’t like confrontation either, and it also might provide the employee an opening to give unwanted feedback to the boss.

  20. bamcheeks*

    Honestly, I’m definitely hypersensitive to this because of the last few weeks, but I do find letter 2 pretty offensive. Some of us have to live with the consequences of a hyperwealthy dysfunctional minority with a “born to rule” complex! We don’t need weirdos in other countries fetishising it, thank you very much.

        1. Ferret*

          Funnelling the best of the memes and twitter reactions to my stanchly republican Irish mother, who is also not great with the internet, has been one of the only reliefs of the last couple of months of absolute nonsense

    1. londonedit*

      Yeah I have no strong feelings about the monarchy either way, and it was sad to see the Queen go simply because she’s been there almost as long as my parents have been alive, let alone me, but I find people in other countries (especially the US) who fetishise the Royals and view Britain as some sort of Downton Abbey fantasy land really quite offensive.

    2. inko*

      YES. If they’re not your ruling class, flipping calm down. You don’t need to defend them. They’re fine, trust me.

      (Hypothetical USian royalist you, not bamcheeks you)

    3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I agree about not fetishizing it, but I do love their clothes! Especially Charlotte’s and Kate’s clothes!

      That said, you could put those clothes on any cute people and I would love them, so it really isn’t about them being royalty!

  21. J*

    Regarding the third question. We had a manager die in very difficult traumatic circumstances. The company involved the four of us who reported to him in the interview process, as well as being clear with the applicants what had happened. It worked out.

    1. LW3/OP3*

      Thank you for sharing. I will be involving the team members who will be the closest to the new hire(s) but only as they are okay with it and wants to do it. But I also think this is good as it then will be both less sudden but also be something they will have more control and insight in.

  22. Taking the long way round*

    Fun fact from someone who absolutely isn’t a royalist – it’s the Union Jack when it’s at sea. On land or elsewhere (like on mugs) it’s the Union Flag ;)

  23. Lucy*

    Brit here, commenting on the monarchy thing. Just to note that if someone in my own country had any kind of work-impacting reaction to a mild joke about our weird, unelected despots, they’d be at risk of serious repercussions for such unprofessional behaviour. They’d get away with disagreement and maybe a minor spat about it, but… Although, the entire country did seem to suspend its sense of reality to play act a regency romance during the time of the queen’s funeral… But yeah, generally not ok to be so weird and unprofessional in any country and maybe even weirder in a country that like… Isn’t ruled by that monarchy anyway..!

    Also, I’m guessing the connotations are different in the US but if someone in my work place had Union jacks all over their desk, I’d constantly be anxiously waiting for them to spout racist abuse. There is no real line between nationalism and racism here, so I would be *on edge* around that person.

    Obviously the country has been speeding to the far right for more than a decade, though, so maybe there are some places in the UK that this might happen? Not any I’ve worked in, though!

    1. londonedit*

      Yeah my own personal prejudices would tell me that anyone who made a point of drinking out of a Union Flag mug, or who had a Union Flag on display at their desk, probably agrees with much of what Nigel Farage and Piers Morgan spout. There’s a whooooooooooole cultural/political thing about flags in England (outside of football, but even then there’s a whoooooooooooole history and some of that crap is rearing its ugly head again) that’s completely different to the way the national flag is viewed in the US.

      1. inko*

        Yeah I do have an immediate inner reaction to anyone showing a Union Flag or an England flag. (Not Welsh or Scottish, though.) I wouldn’t assume I was right, but I’d be…wary.

      2. Lilo*

        In the US racists do conveniently have a specific self identifying flag that’s not the US flag. Though someone who went over the top on US flags would be an oddity at least where I live.

      3. Lucy*

        Yeah, I mean, I knew it wouldn’t have the same connotations over there but there is something in it that highlights how odd this behaviour is. Like, your fandom is an imaginary country with the name and characters of a real one. You’ve given it the nice bits of the actually very bloody and horrible history of the real country. And you’re flying the flag of the real country but you’ve given it a whole nother meaning.

        Of course this is all stuff the British have also been very guilty of over the years, and in more villainous, brutal and racist ways. This one is fairly harmless and honestly, to each their own, if they’re not causing conflict with colleagues about it. But… Weird, still.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      The non-US flag that identifies you as a racist in the US is not the Union Flag. Someone who flies British flags everywhere in the US looks . . . goofy, mostly, and you expect them to be obsessed with tea and floral prints a la Hyacinth Bucket, but your mind doesn’t automatically go to “white supremacist”. The Britain we see here is BBC re-aired on Public Television and the Bake-Off (which has its own issues but at least demonstrates that the UK is not all-white and Brits-only).

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        It’s starting to, at least in my part of the US (PA suburbs). The racists are a leery of flying the Confederate flag because luckily there are enough outspoken folks around who will complain and they’ll have to take it down. So they’ve been advertising themselves by first of all displaying signs for certain politicians all year round, with the American flag prominently displayed. A lot of them also wear clothing with flags and stuff like “Real American” on it (i.e. white, cis, het, conservative). It’s unfortunately become common enough that when I see someone wearing a flag shirt, hat etc. I get a little suspicious of them.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Also if you’re in PA and flying a Confederate battle flag you look like a dumb***. You can’t even pretend it’s “heritage”.

          1. Calamity Janine*

            given how the dismal rag known as the confederate flag has been adopted as a beloved symbol of racists in *australia*, from reports i’ve read…

            i don’t think the people doing the display of the thing are smart enough to realize the inconsistency there lol.

    3. Raw Flour*

      The connotations are super different in the US, IME. But I appreciate your mentioning this, as while I do not display any national flags at my desk, I now know that it might be worth it to mention perception to an Anglophile coworker.

      1. Lucy*

        Well, maybe, but having made the comment above, I should probably clarify that if I saw a non-British person with the flag, I would probably not make the same assumption. If I were doing Business in the US, I would probably figure it meant that kind of tea and scones and Downton Abbey vibe. I was more commenting on it as something I find really strange. That there’s like, a fun, aesthetic version of my country that strangers elsewhere are getting attached to! (I know we all do it in one way or another but it’s a strange cognitive dissonance for me.)

        1. Lucy*

          The weird capitalisation of “business” here is because I actually work in education and my phone assumes I’m writing about Business Studies. Sorry!

  24. Shira*

    For LW2, when you speak to Kate I would suggest even leaving out the bit about William’s joke – go straight to “I have noticed you are having issues working with William. This is impacting your work, and I need to know you will do the tasks he assigns you.”
    She might choose to save face by agreeing and not bringing up the royals joke at all (maybe she’s cooled down by now? Maybe she didn’t realize how obvious her sulking was?) Or who knows, maybe she has some other legitimate issue with William. Maybe he actually bullied her in the past about her royal obsession and this was the final straw.
    And if she brings up the “offensive” joke as a sole justification for her behavior, that’s a whole other level of commitment to unprofessionalism, and you can shut it down (and probably keep an eye on her for other signs of trouble).

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This is helpful and specific enough to implement easily in advance of her review. I’d add a clear statement that this is a performance problem that will be a negative on her upcoming review if not corrected immediately.

    2. Siege*

      Yeah, I think opening up debate on the content of William’s joke (see how it has taken over the comments!) is a poor idea. I like your wording for avoiding it. And OP, it needed to be addressed when it became obvious it was happening. The next best time is now, but you are acting like a peer, rather than a manager and you may want to reflect on why that is (are you actually empowered to manage? Do you avoid anything that could be conflict?)

    3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I think this is the way to go. Best to handle it this way in case there is more going on that OP does not know, and that leaves an opening to Kate to explain. It still doesn’t make the current behavior appropriate, but going in just assuming the joke is the sole issue might not be fair.

  25. Paul Pearson*

    Oh lordy, massive anglophiles always feel a bit creepy to me (in our office in Britain only one person would be offended by that joke – and yes they’re American and rather bemused that we didn’t all collapse in grief when Liz died)

    But regardless of the subject matter who are these people with such a weird sense of professional norms? To freeze out a colleague is so vastly inappropriate , but someone who stands above you? You can’t sulk with your boss!

  26. Rosacolleti*

    LW 2- what was tasteless or even jokey about it, wasn’t it simply a statement of fact? I can’t fathom what she could have found upsetting let alone offensive.

      1. Lilo*

        I don’t see how it’s ageist? They were just joking that a guy born to a particular job didn’t get it until 73.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        No, it wasn’t. Everyone knows that in the UK you don’t become ruler until the preceding ruler either dies or abdicates. It’s not like he’s been actively trying to get this job and has been rejected–he wasn’t going to get it until it was vacated, period.

      3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        No, it wasn’t. It did not suggest that he cannot do the job due to his age. It suggested that he has never had to work until 73 due to his privilege. It is not fully accurate, but that is the suggestion. That and it may be a dig at the absurdity of the system of how the crown gets passed down. But there was nothing ageist in the joke.

    1. Nonym*

      Nah, it’s just a harmless joke. He’s worked for several decades, so it’s not simply a statement of fact.

      Now, whether that work or his current one is a useful contribution to society or worth it to the taxpayers is an entirely different question.

      Either way, Kate is out of line and this needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

    2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      It is not factual, because he has always worked, and the implication is that he never had to work a day because he is lazy and privileged. But it is a joke, and most people know that you take jokes with a grain of salt as to whether they are factual. Also, a lot of people probably do not see being a working member of the royal family as real “work,” but it is a real job, as was made obvious when Harry and Megan officially resigned their role.

  27. El+l*

    LW1: Maybe it’s just my general annoyance at everything golf, but – leave. This place sounds like something from the 70s.

    LW2: Yeah, tell her to get over it, and sooner rather than later. And don’t listen to the commenters above who are looking for ways to spin this into a bullying or justified outrage situations. That’s just because victimization is one of those things social media encourages. The medium is the message.

    LW5: Unless you are ever ecstatically happy at your current gig – yes, you should look for jobs in at least a low-grade way, and apply to them. Until the moment you sign on the dotted line of an employment contract, it’s all just a conversation. You can and should be benchmarking what you are getting from your current job with elsewhere. That’s just looking out for yourself.

    1. BL73*

      I agree with your #2. It’s not bullying or harassment. It was a dumb, not very funny, joke. Frankly, Kate needs to be sat down immediately and asked if she is able to do all aspects of her job with a positive attitude. She is creating a terrible work environment and if she isn’t able to recover, she should be terminated.

    2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Honestly, I agree with the commenter who said OP needs to bring up the behavior, point out that it is not ok, and then ask what is behind it, rather than assume it is just the joke. It may well just be the joke and the timing suggests it is, but it is possible that the joke triggered her after a series of incidents with William that OP knows nothing about. Kate’s behavior is a problem either way, but best OP not to walk into it assuming she knows the whole story.

  28. PinkCandyfloss*

    Hang on. “Looks like a 73 year old man will finally get a job” isn’t just tasteless, it’s AGEIST. Just because someone is making an ageist joke about a famous person doesn’t mean it isn’t AGEIST. There are plenty of jokes to be made about this situation that don’t perpetuate stereotypes about older people or create a harmful atmosphere for older people. If “William” had joked about a person of color or an overweight person or a disabled person or an old person or any other protected category in the US: “William” needs to have a talk with HR about how such “jokes” create a negative working environment for people in those categories. Allison, I’m disappointed you missed pointing out the harm inherent in making a joke about people with advanced age, and working.

    1. PinkCandyfloss*

      What I’m saying is Kate needs a talking to and pronto about how she works with William, but William also needs a refresher in why we don’t joke about protected categories and maybe to read a copy of the ADEA.

      nb4 anyone jumps in with it’s just a joke: many outrageously discriminatory remarks are “just jokes” to someone and that is in fact part of the problem.

      1. PinkCandyfloss*

        The number of people jumping in to explain to me that how making a joke about someone in a protected category isn’t any kind of -ist and doesn’t contribute to a negative working environment for people in or close to that category (or anyone in hearing range frankly) need to refresh your sensitivity training especially the part about how intent doesn’t matter.

        1. PinkCandyfloss*

          HR professionals reading this thread thinking about all of the “lighten up, it’s just a joke, it doesn’t mean X” we’ve had to train out of workers for so many years, now sadly realizing for a whole bunch of you we have to start all over again. Well, this was a teachable moment that was missed and I’ll just go on being in the minority of that belief.

          1. !*

            Not everything that mentions age is ageist. Can you explain exactly how you think the joke was ageist? The reason you’re in the minority is that it wasn’t and I say that as someone who is concerned about ageism.

          2. inko*

            No, but it literally doesn’t mean X. It’s not like saying X but not really meaning it seriously. It doesn’t say X and it doesn’t mean X. It’s not a question intent, it’s the actual words and meaning of what was said.

          3. DisgruntledPelican*

            This is such a ridiculous take. I sincerely hope you’re not actually in HR since you don’t actually know what ageism is.

        2. bamcheeks*

          I think you’re using lots of terms here that are close enough to legal terms to sound official but aren’t actually how any of this works, and I think you need to define more clearly how you think this joke would be contributing to creating a hostile environment for someone in their 40s or older. I genuinely don’t understand the thinking process you are suggesting here from, “someone made a joke about Charles waiting 73 years to take up the job he’d been prepared for since birth” to “this person holds stereotyped and discriminatory about me as someone my age”, however “my age” is defined. Your definition of ageism seems to be so broad that it would potentially prohibit celebrating anyone’s birthday.

        3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          But it wasn’t about his age or competence! It is saying he has never had to have a job until age 73, which is not true, but it is not ageist!

    2. Lilo*

      I really don’t see how it’s ageist. It’s a joke about one particular man getting a “job” he’s been “promised” and been in waiting for at an age most people are retired by. There’s nothing in it to suggest all 73 year olds haven’t been working or something. It’s a very Charles specific joke.

      1. UKDancer*

        It’s also been a meme / joke in the UK for years. I remember an old Spitting Image sketch from the 1990s about Charles wondering when he’ll become king and the Queen puppet singing “I will survive”. It’s a joke about British dynastic succession and the daftness of hereditary monarchy really.

        1. PinkCandyfloss*

          There’s plenty of longtime popular memes that are racist/ sexist/ ableist/ homophobic/ ageist/ you name it, there’s a meme for it. How does “it’s a longtime cultural meme” defend using this type of humor in the workplace? (hint: it doesn’t)

          1. Lilo*

            That makes no sense. If people have been joking about Charles being in waiting since he was in his 30s, that’s about Charles, not ageism.

            Making jokes about one of the most privileged people in the world is the definition of punching up.

          2. inko*

            That’s not the point again. No one is saying it’s OK for it to be ageist because it’s a classic meme. They’re saying it’s been a meme for longer than Charles has been old.

          3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            “There’s plenty of longtime popular memes that are racist/ sexist/ ableist/ homophobic/ ageist/ you name it”

            True, but this is not one of them!

    3. bamcheeks*

      The joke isn’t “it’s weird for a 73yo to have a job”, it’s “it’s funny to call being king a job and weird to have waited until your seventies to finally do the job you’ve been prepared for since birth.” It’s a joke about absolutely absurd the monarchy is.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      It’s not ageist. He wasn’t rejected all these years because of his age–the job simply wasn’t open until the preceding ruler was gone.

    5. I should really pick a name*

      How is the joke ageist when it’s poking fun at ageism?

      Ageism is not hiring someone because they’re 73. The joke is that someone who’s 73 actually IS getting hired, contrary to common ageist practices.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I don’t even think that is the joke. It is implying that he never had to do a job (factually untrue, but a lot of people think that or that it wasn’t real “work” because he is lazy (doesn’t seem true to me) and privileged (totally true). And it is a joke, so you take the “facts” with a grain of salt.

        Otherwise it is making fun of the monarchy for the way the title and crown are handed down at death (meaning poor Charles has been raised to do a job all his life that he couldn’t do until he was 73 and his mom died, which undoubtedly sucked because he probably wanted to get his chance to do this job earlier but did not want to lose his mom earlier). But that is a dig at the institution, not at Charles for his age!

    6. Juicebox Hero*

      Whether it is ageist or not doesn’t change the fact that Kate can’t freeze out her manager and refuse to do her work without consequences. It’s unacceptable behavior for the office. That’s also the situation the OP wants to address. Remember Kate was offended because the joke was about King Charles, period, not because of the age aspect of it.

      If William has a pattern of bad behavior, that’s a separate issue to be addressed by his higher-ups but it’s irrelevant and unhelpful to the OP here.

      1. PinkCandyfloss*

        And I said that it doesn’t change Kate being in the wrong, and I wasn’t addressing this to the OP, I was addressing it to Allison re: her answer.

    7. inko*

      The joke is not ‘lol an old man getting hired for something’. It’s poking fun at the idea of someone a) waiting 73 years to get this one specific job and b) not having to earn a living in 73 years of life due to ridiculous privilege.

    8. CharlieBrown*

      I think you lack the context to understand how this joke isn’t ageist. The joke is not about age, it’s about Dear Old Prince Charlie having to wait his entire life to get the job he was basically born into.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        And about him not having to work before this due to his privilege (which is not exactly true, but he did have extreme privilege and never had to really struggle to be sure he would be taken care of).

    9. comityoferrors*

      “Ageist” =/= “mentions someone’s age”

      It’s not perpetuating a stereotype about “older people.” It’s very, very clearly perpetuating a stereotype about *the Royal Family*, which you might note is not a protected class here or in the UK.

      If this were about, like, a fictional version of my dad instead of Charles…if my fictional dad didn’t work his entire life and then got a job at age 73…please explain what stereotypical traits of older people are being maligned if someone says, completely factually, “looks like a 73 year old man will finally get a job.” Divorced from the context of Charles, it’s not even “just a joke”, it’s just a *statement*. It’s a joke *because* of Charles’ position in the monarchy.

      1. londonedit*

        All of this. The whole idea of the joke is about poking fun at a) the ridiculousness of monarchy in general, in that it allows a man to get to the age of 73 and live in a vastly privileged and wealthy position without having ever done a day’s work in his life (I know that’s not strictly true as the Royals have charity work and he had the Duchy of Cornwall etc, but in terms of what 99% of people would call ‘work’, plus when did jokes ever stick strictly to the truth when they could bend it for comic effect) and b) the fact that poor old Charlie has effectively been twiddling his thumbs for 70 years waiting to become King. It’s an extraordinary situation and it’s in no way ageist, or insulting to the Queen or to Charles, to joke about it.

    10. I just can't*

      No. Its making fun of an extremely privledged man who has not had to work until he was 73.
      If William wad saying this extremely privileged man should not take the job because 73 is too old and that his extremely privileged son should instead then okay. Obviously that was not what was said and no real person should be OUTRAGED! at a silly joke.

    11. Sylvan*

      This is such a reach. Framing a king as marginalized just because he’s old is ridiculous, and comparing him to normal people like me as a fat, disabled person is hilarious. We aren’t even living in the same world!

      Back on a serious note — everyone is in a protected category as you’ve described. Everyone has a race, weight, or degree of ability. Age is the only category in which only some people are protected (people over 40).

      1. Sylvan*

        And I’m 40 years younger, and I have over 10 more years of work experience! The more you think about it, the funnier it gets.

    12. Nitpicker*

      I didn’t take it as agism. I took it as a joke about agism. And even against agism. Acknowledging that due to agism, it was unusual for a 73 year to get a job. I actually didn’t think it was that funny.
      But Kate needs to be called out for what she is doing. Or rather not doing.

    13. Calamity Janine*

      i’ll be honest, i think you’re way off the mark on this one.

      the only stereotype it’s really promoting is that… uh… regents generally get to their throne through somebody dying and that can take a few years. because that is how succession works.

      monarchs are not a legally protected class. nor, quite frankly, should they be. in fact, many places adamantly declare they are not, sometimes by having entire wars about it. it’s not even all that true in the country of origin of this particular monarchy – just ask ol’ Charles I.

      don’t lump my disabled self in with monarchs as if we are equally at risk of prejudice, as if society is built around oppressing us both, and as if we are both going to suffer massively in similar ways due to our situation. to do so is to, in fact, be *massively ableist*! (and racist, and sexist, and… well, you get the idea. but i’m disabled so let’s focus on that.)

      don’t. do not. if you want the actual offensive statements here, it’s coming directly from YOU.

      take a quick refresher about how oppression works.

      if you can come back and then circle the passage of american employment law that covers protections for *the british monarchy*, then i’ll be willing to forgive you for the massive insult your ableism has just dealt me. however, you are absolutely more interested in being “right” than actually DOING right… otherwise you wouldn’t have felt the need to rush in, trampling all over actually oppressed people who suffer massive harm every single day in order to defend one person living in extreme privilege.

      are you interested in tilting at windmills, or do you actually believe any of the values you think you are espousing?

      because right now, you just fed me and mine directly into a woodchipper in order to minimize active threats to our very lives – in a world where half of the american political system has spent the past few years arguing in favor of genocide of the disabled and is running with that as part of the platform – in order to… let me see here… defend the honor of an extremely privileged man who has spent his entire life in the lap of luxury.

      hey, here’s your teachable moment: OUR LIVES ARE WORTH MORE CONSIDERATION THAN A VERY MILD RIBBING JOKE TOWARDS A PARAGON OF PRIVILEGE. we are people. we are actual people. we are NOT your little example to trot out as a trump card of why you should be right. the fact that you’re trying to invoke the disabled as a gotcha here shows just how expendable you think we are, and just how little you actually care about us.

      that’s the HR nightmare that you are *existing as* right now.

      if you want us to take you at all seriously, stop actively promoting bigotry and slavishly devoting yourself to oppressive systems. i will listen to your ideas of morality once you stop trying to put me in the woodchipper. until you stop trying to help the people who want me dead, by managing to minimize all my issues like you are doing at this instant, i do not care about what you think fighting oppression is, and i absolutely will not want to treat you as an expert in the matter. because you think fighting oppression is shoving me in the woodchipper. it’s not. it’s just fighting ME.

      if you think shoving me into the woodchipper is *helping*, then… for the love of all that is good, quit your job. you do not deserve to be in HR. you can only bring active harm when trying to speak on such matters, as you have just done right now. you do not need to be in HR, or even management. i would hesitate to trust you enough to flip burgers. after all, you’re dedicated to doing ableism; i’m sure at some point you’d decide that people with life-threatening allergies are just as expendable in the face of you being absolutely correct.

      so now, with all due kindness, which to be fair quite small, from someone who is actively hurt by your ideas of “activism” and equating the major problems caused by ableism with this complete farce of a non-issue?

      sit down, shut up, and get the name of my existence out of your mouth.

    14. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      No, it wasn’t. It did not suggest that he cannot do the job due to his age. It suggested that he has never had to work until 73 due to his privilege. It is not fully accurate, but that is the suggestion. That and it may be a dig at the absurdity of the system of how the crown gets passed down. But there was nothing ageist in the joke.

  29. Sue Toth*

    The company I worked at in the ’80’s had golf outings that were always attended by the men. One year, my Supervisor asked the President/Owner if the women could attend. He said yes. We attended the outings for a couple years. Fun times. Many hangovers.

  30. KayleePants*

    #1…I feel like the bigger problem is that the company is paying for useless renovations and games, while refusing merit raises. OP I personally would consider leaving!

    1. Generic+Name*

      Same! My initial reaction to the post is that the LW is focusing on the wrong issue. I personally think it’s exclusionary (ableist, classist, etc.) for a company to be obsessed with a sport that historically only rich white able-bodied men participated in, but that’s not the real problem. You were told that there’s no money for raises, and then you see with your eyes that there’s plenty of money for executive perks. Your company is showing you that they don’t value you. Id start job searching.

    2. Ama*

      My brother loves golf so much he has a golf simulator in his own home and lives in a neighborhood that has its own golf course — but that’s for his off work time. At this company he’d just be annoyed that they expected him to come into the office and then waste his time by not even working (he left a job in 2021 when they tried to make him return to the office every day even though he had proven his job could be done fully from home, now he works fully remote and loves it).

    3. Sylvan*

      +1, absolutely. They’re showing you where their priorities are.

      Also, my apartment complex has a golf simulator and a bar on one floor. I spend a lot of time on that floor and I think, LW, you might find the combination of a bar and golf simulator pretty distracting. It can be noisy.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      I mean, on the one hand, yes, frivolous things when “no raises” are in play seems suspect. That said, a golf simulator can cost anywhere from 3k-15k. I don’t know how many employees this place has, but depending on how much they’re spending and how many people there are, if they had tried to split the cost of the frivolous stuff and disperse among staff, it might mean something like a raise (or possibly one time bonus) of a couple hundred dollars. And while I’d never reject more money, and I know even $100 might be significant to one person’s budget, when I think about the numbers, this is probably more similar to “not spending $4 on coffee will not significantly help repay $100,000 in student loans” than it is to “CEO gets 6 figure bonus and lowest paid employee gets $0.25/hr raise”.

  31. Sara without an H*

    OP#1 (Golf): The culture won’t change. Do you want to stay with this company enough that golf lessons would be worth it to you? Or do you want to start looking elsewhere? Because, trust me — the golf won’t go away.

    OP#2 (King Charles): Do not, do not, do not wait “a few weeks” to address this. Kate is openly refusing to work with a manager she’s tasked to support, and you need to address it with her NOW. And while you’re at it, how does she get along with everybody else? Because I can’t believe this is her only quirk.

    OP#3 (Hiring): I seem to remember another letter from years ago, in which the rest of the office staff basically ran off anyone hired to replace a deceased colleague. Agree with Alison that reassigning work stations or moving some furniture is worth it. And you might want to take a look at the job description — are there any tweaks you can make to keep this person from becoming “The New Jane”?

    OP#4 (Demote vs. Fire): Why are you even thinking about a demotion? You have gone to a lot of trouble with this new manager and it’s not working. It sounds like she’s not a good fit for your organization. Let her go and then review your hiring processes.

    OP#5 (Not sure about applying): Sure, it’s fine. First, though, take some time to think about what you want the next phase of your career to look like, then apply to things that look like reasonable next steps. It is always much easier to job search when you’re already employed. Good luck!

    1. LW3/OP3*

      I think we will be safer here. Apart from more general signs of a healthier organisation we are also multiple persons with the same role often switching tasks between them. In addition the persons closest to the new hire(s) will be involved in the hiring process (by choice) and is actually looking forward to it. Of course there are mixed feelings but I’m really working on mentally preparing and involving everyone to the degree they are comfortable with to make sure this is something they are a part of rather than it being something that happens to them.

  32. Juicebox Hero*

    Obviously Kate never saw the original British “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” which was an improv show in the late 80s-early-90s. Harsh jokes directed at the royals, by British comedians, were common and merciless. I can only imagine what British comedians are doing with Andrew’s involvement in the Epstein scandal and Harry and Meghan leaving the family.

    That aside, anyone who’d get into a snit over a mild at best insult to their hobby to the point that they’d freeze out a manager – A MANAGER – and refuse to do their work needs a good poke with the clue stick. You’re always going to have to work with and for people you don’t like, but you have to be grown up and live with it. OP would be doing Kate a kindness by spelling that out for her.

    1. londonedit*

      People (aside from the tabloids) don’t really care about Harry and Meghan, there isn’t really anything to joke about there, but Prince Andrew? Very very very very much yes.

    2. Malarkey01*

      I am taking “a poke from the clue stick” and incorporating it into my every day conversation. Thank you!

  33. Hiring Mgr*

    Is number 4 also about King Charles? Either way, if you’re already thinking demotion after only two months, it’s probably best to cut ties completely if you’re convinced they can’t get up to speed

    1. Sloanicota*

      I guess if OP is still on the fence re: demotion vs firing, I’d put in a vote that you could throw some severance money at the fired employee and it would still be an organizational savings over paying them in the new position until they (most likely) get a new job and quit on their own. If I was this employee I think I’d rather receive generous severance as a softer landing vs a new lower paid job that presumably isn’t what I wanted and may be quite uncomfortable socially.

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      Okay, I’m now picturing Sir Graham Brady having written it (he was the one who actually advised LT that she had lost the confidence and advised she resign; King Charles would accept the resignation but wouldn’t normally step in himself to demote a PM to the backbenches, although I believe he technically does have power to.)

    3. Zephy*

      tHaT jOkE iS aGeisT aNd OfFeNsiVe

      anyway I agree, LW4 should just part ways with this employee. It’s clearly not working out, everyone will probably feel better about a clean break.

  34. H3llifIknow*

    So, I worked for one of the BIG govt. contractors. You’d know the name. Every eyar the Senior VP would take all of the MALE C-suite on his private plane to Scotland to golf. Didn’t even matter if the females golfed; they weren’t invited. This among a few other things led to not 1 but 3 separate sexual discrimination suits against the company, because there was a perception that females were being shut out of networking, time with the big bosses and, naturally promotions. I believe the suits were settled, but it might be worth saying something next time you hear a VP in line say something about golfing, “Y’know the optics around all the “guys” golfing while we women in X dept. are working overtime aren’t great; maybe there’s a way to make the culture around here a little less like an old man’s country club, eh?” Or some variation thereof :)

  35. Lilo*

    Re: the coworker who committed suicide.

    So I highly suggest discussing the workplace situation with a counselor and consulting some guides on discussions of suicide. As someone who has both most a coworker and a close friend, there are some really important discussions to be had about respecting the privacy and family of the deceased and about how you avoid triggers and potential mental harm.

    1. LW3*

      I fully agree which was why everyone had contact with counselors individually within hours of receiving the information of what had happened. Something like this can trigger so much and having the proper support is crucial.

      We have also been very conscious about the privacy topic and overall been extremely careful with what has been communicated and how.

  36. Luna*

    LW2 – No need to sugarcoat your words and you don’t focus on the ‘can’t take a joke’ part. You focus on her refusing to do work for a manager. You can understand she found his intended-joke/comment hurtful, but she cannot let it influence her job. If she can’t do that, she needs to find a different job, quite frankly.

    LW3 – I recall a similar case in a previous post, where an employee died and the rest of the coworkers ended up bullying any replacement because they thought it was disrespectful towards the dead colleague to have someone taking ‘their job’. Or the desk, as you say. It’s not “Jane’s desk” anymore, it’s “the teapot designer’s desk”.

    It’s a job. Yes, the employee that committed suicide was important to the coworkers, but the job is not exclusive to them. Your employees need to be aware and tolerate that it won’t be an open position forever.
    On the other hand, perhaps letting candidates know that a colleague died recently is important, just so they know that some people are grieving, dealing with the trauma, etc. You don’t *have* to tell them that the position is open because of a death. Just give them some information that means they won’t be thrown into the cold water.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      That letter has been mentioned a couple of times – and I think OP could read it and get advice, as was mentioned upthread. But I think it’s also important to remember that was an atypical and wildly out of line group reaction that should have been nipped in the bud way earlier.

      Most workplaces might struggle with this (I think Alison’s advice about finding another desk is great, just remove as many associations as possible), but I think people typically know that the business has to move on, and it sounds like they have resources to help individuals with that.

      I say all this just because I want OP to know if they do look into that letter, it’s a worst case scenario. Some general good advice there about helping make people more comfortable, but I wouldn’t want them to think that reaction is normal or expected.

    2. LW3/OP3*

      I think you have a balanced perspective. I don’t think there is any risk of anyone actively protecting the domains of our former colleague but I want to give whoever joins a fair warning to why some topics might require a bit extra care. It is never fun to unexpectedly with enthusiasm ask what a person is doing now and get the response “They died.”. Let’s find everyone the best chance to together navigate a very difficult situation.

  37. caseykay68*

    Just some thoughts on golf. I am a female and I started golfing later in life. I took a class through the local community recreation office, so it was very affordable. It all happened to be a group of women who were approaching it for a variety of reasons, some business related, some just for an activity. It is a shame that golf ends up being so gender based, because it actually is a pretty fun game. In learning golf I’ve been able to play with my dad. When we were walking to the tee for our first game he said “I can’t believe its taken us 50 years to play a game of golf.” So its had other benefits for me as well. All that said, also entirely valid to not like golf and Allison’s advice is spot on in how you should think about approaching.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      This is nice. I think golf is one of those games that people who don’t play it think they wouldn’t enjoy it because, quite frankly, most people find it boring to watch. But it’s fun to play for quite a few people. It’s always worth trying something you didn’t think you would like. (That’s how I found out I like cabbage. Beets, not so much still.)

      I’m so glad you and your dad found a new way to bond. This is such a heart-warming comment. Thank you.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Same – my dad loves golf so my mom signed us kids up for a few lessons so we could occasionally golf as a family, and I’ve kept it up over the years in order to golf with various friends and relatives.

      However, I would strongly consider leaving a company that invests in an office bar, lots of golf excursions, and a golf simulator but denies merit raises and isn’t staffing properly. It doesn’t matter if you play or don’t in that case, you’re being limited in career and salary growth by the company’s weird priorities.

    3. Luna*

      I know that my manager plays golf with her husband. I personally don’t find golf interesting, but I’m sure some people would find golf fascinating, whereas they think my liking of, say, volleyball is boring.

      If the group of LW’s department mostly consists of those that don’t golf and don’t like it, they could maybe bring their spirits up by having tiny vent-like jokes about golf or how often it’s talked about. “Oh, 3 o’ clock, that means it’s Birdie Discussion Time!”

      Though if there really is a huge issue with understaffing and LW’s department getting more work to do than the others, who maybe are ignoring work in favor of golfing, a mention to the manager might be worthwhile. Not in the sense of “STFU about golf and get them to do their job!” but focusing on the heavy workload, seeing if there are some people in other departments that could lend a helping hand.

  38. zoobeezoo*

    OP3 – as someone who once replaced a beloved colleague who died unexpectedly and then wasn’t told (for MONTHS after I was hired) that this is why the position was open, I appreciate you thinking about how to be open and sensitive about this. I hope you’re doing okay.

    1. LW3/OP3*

      Thank you and appreciate your kind words. I know it might sound strange and cold to think about it already now but it really comes from not wanting anyone to accidentally be put in a very uncomfortable and unnecessary position. Awareness does so much for selecting the right words and tone of voice when approaching difficult subjects.

  39. Observer*

    #2- Over-reaction to a stupid joke.

    I have two questions for you. One is why are you waiting for the annual review? How is her refusing to do her job something that you allow to continue for WEEKS?

    Secondly, why are you focusing on whether the joke was “funny” or not. It’s really not relevant. The fact the ANYONE is focusing on that is a real part of the problem. You should be telling her that she needs to do her job. Full Stop! Any comments about William’s joke being “not funny”, “disrespectful” and / or “hurtful” should NOT be entertained. Do not *argue* with her. Rather tell her that she is free to feel however she feels, no judgement, but she is NOT free to be rude and CERTAINLY not free to refuse to do her job.

    Be ready to escalate the consequences here.

  40. calvin blick*

    I am in a kind of similar position to letterwritter #1–everyone in my company (at least above a certain level) golfs, I’ve already turned down offers to golf with my boss, people have half-jokingly told me to learn. My problem is…I don’t care enough about golf for it to be fun, and I don’t want to cut into my leisure time in order to network.

    I’m not happy that my upward mobility at this company is limited, but on the other hand there are lots of other companies.

  41. Scandinavian Vacationer*

    OP#5 There is actually a name for this, from the HR perspective. I think it’s something like “secondary job candidates” a term for people who are not actively job searching. Perhaps an HR or recruiter can elaborate.
    From a hiring manager’s perspective, these applicants are great! They are curious, mildly interested, and frequently turn into stellar employees.

  42. Troublemaker*

    #2: I have a sister like this. The correct thing to do is follow up insults against the monarchy with pointed critiques of the monarchist regime. This forces the monarchist to choose between being offended by the insult or responding to the critique; their emotional temperament usually won’t let them do both.

    For example, if you start with “Wow, I hear King Charles finally got a job!” then you need to follow it up with something like “Why does his family get a tax exemption, anyway? I think that they could afford to pay taxes.” The monarchist is now forced to either swallow the insult and explain UK tax law, or swallow a doubt about their opinions and get angry.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      There’s lots of things you can get away with doing to your siblings that aren’t appropriate to do to a coworker, especially one below you on the totem pole.

    2. Roland*

      It would be super super weird for OP to strategize better Royals conversion techniques with William! Plus the fact that William hasn’t done anything wrong but it would be wrong and inappropriate for him to like, come up with ways to purposefully antagonize an assistant on purpose.

    3. Observer*

      Why would the OP do any of this?

      It’s an awful lot of work for a situation that’s not really relevant. Whether you are a royalist or anti-royal is not relevant in most, if not all, US workplaces. There is simply no reason the OP should spend time getting Kate to justify or change her opinion. All the OP should care about is that Kate does her job.

    4. Lilo*

      I mean the easiest criticism of the monarchy is pretty available given what Charles’s brother has been allowed to get away with.

  43. glitter writer*

    re Letter 5: I applied this summer for a position that I thought sounded great, got an immediate callback, went straight through two interviews and was clearly their top candidate for the role… and then I woke up one morning and saw an email about scheduling a meeting with the CEO to talk strategy and realized: WOW I don’t want this job, it is not in line with my goals or preferences, I was wrong about this one. So I withdrew politely. It was not the end of the world! I am still on good terms with all the folks at the organization (which is good, because I work in a very small, niche field) and could work with them in the future. It’s fine.

  44. Whatevs*

    Re: King Charles.

    I knew there was royal fandom but didn’t realize (but should have) it could be as toxic as other toxic fandoms. That joke was circulating almost right away.

    And to freeze him out because of that? Wow.

    1. CTT*

      It’s so weirdly toxic. Boden posted on Facebook when Kate wore one of their dresses and the comments turned into out of control sniping between the pro-Kate and pro-Meghan factions.

      1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        Oh that Kate vs Meghan stuff just is complete nonsense and insane. It’s not healthy, it’s weird and they’re just two women who are trying to raise their kids and do their jobs while living in glass bowls they both knew they were entering when they married into the family.

        1. Observer*

          Actually, I’m not sure that Megan knew what she was getting into. Regardless, though, that kind of thing is beyond ridiculous.

          1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            I agree. I mean, I think she thought she was and I think they tried to prepare her, but sometimes you can’t really know what it is like until you are in it. I mean, I don’t love her or agree with everything she ever did (her veil was great, but she really could have picked a more flattering wedding dress, lol), but I don’t hate her or blame her and Harry for making the decisions they felt were best for themselves and their family!

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Meanwhile Kate and Meghan are probably perfectly fine with each other, just not super close. Not all sisters in law are going to be close to each other. The need of the press to create some stupid feud between them is absurd. All they needed was for these two women not to appear to be bestest friends to get the green light to create a nonexistent drama in the public mind!

        I just don’t read any of those articles anymore. Unless Meghan and/or Kate comes out directly and says that they hate the other/each other, I assume they are just fine!

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I have an English parent and three English grandparents so I feel like I should have been prepared and yet this whole thread has me like, “Y’all are WEIRD about the monarchy.”

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Yes, I got dragged into it more than I liked during the Meghan and Harry craziness, just because everyone was talking about it. I felt like people were treating the whole situation like the royal family were the Kardashians, and I don’t get why people care about them either (actually I find the interest in them even weirder)!

  45. SometimesMaybe*

    LW #1 – I would like to know where she is located. I think views on golf vary greatly by region. I am a women living in Texas, and golf is ubiquitous here. Granted I love golf, as do my daughters, and I went to college on a golf scholarship, but organizations like the PGA and LPGA have made great strides over the last few decades to make golf more accessible and affordable. Golf does have a racist past, but so does baseball and most sports, the difference being more people and are able to play and continue to play much longer in life than other sports. As someone who regularly golfs I think people who have never played golf do not have an accurate view of the modern game. I golf regularly and while there are still “old money” courses, most of the time there are large numbers of women and minority players on most courses, as well as at entertainment venues like Top Golf.

  46. Heffalump*

    I’d say Kate’s reaction was over the top even if she were a British subject. As an American she doesn’t even have a dog in this fight.

    I had an analogous experience some years ago. I’d been going through a particular checker’s line at the local supermarket for a few years, and we had a good rapport up to this point. I started into a joke about Michael Jackson and his alleged pedophilia, and she tore my head off. Turns out she was a Michael Jackson fan. If she’d been a personal friend or family member of Michael Jackson, that would have been one thing, but as a fan, no. She didn’t rightfully have a dog in the fight, however tasteless the joke may have been. If she’d said, “I’m a big fan of Michael Jackson, and I don’t really like jokes about him,” in a civil tone of voice, that would have been OK. This incident cost the supermarket my business.

    I’m a liberal Democrat and a fan of Bill and Hillary Clinton. There’s quite a cycle of rude jokes about the Clintons, and I don’t take offense when I hear one.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I had to stop speaking to a cousin after Michael Jackson’s demise amid the paedophilia rumours. She’d get all teary and talk about how it wasn’t possible for someone of his genius.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Wow, that is insane! And many of the worst criminals and dictators in history were geniuses, so being a genius does not make someone incapable of doing awful things. I will say though that her reaction was not a common one as far as I can see. I mostly heard all that stuff repeated at his death with no one getting teary or offended.

    2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Honestly, she needed to go hide in a cave for years after his death if she was going to get that upset about people bringing up the pedophilia! Those comments were all over the place when he died!

  47. Bookworm*

    My wife works in an office where all the guys golf, and she’s taken to gently ribbing her coworkers for their golf obsession by talking about her best mini golf games.

  48. The OTHER other*

    Two letters (the Royal Watcher and the Bad New Manager) showing just how hard people will struggle to avoid and delay having difficult conversations.

    The Royal Watcher is refusing to speak to one of her managers, or do any work for him, and the LW wonders whether to address it or let it go until their annual review?

    The Bad New Manager just sounds terrible–the best thing LW says about them is they are “OK” with the menial parts of the job–but then says even there they need a lot of supervision and reminders. The awfulness of this employee comes through loud and clear in the letter, and yet they consider keeping them anyway. I would be thoroughly examining the hiring process to see what could be improved to keep this sort of expensive mistake from recurring. Was the job described accurately? Did you check references? Would it be appropriate to administer some sort of skills test?

    1. Jackie Straw from Wichita*

      Add to that list of questions: Do you have a 90 day probationary period? And if not, start.

  49. Dragon*

    OP3: Definitely tell candidates what you can/are permitted to tell about why the job is open. You don’t want them wondering if you’re hiding something about the work environment.

    At a past employer we unexpectedly received an all-personnel email that the well-loved EA to the firm chairperson, was very ill and sadly was not expected to recover. Most of us had no idea anything was even wrong.

    On reflection, I assumed her replacement was a current employee but I never knew for sure. She was a tough act to follow under any circumstances, especially with her sense of humor that came across in email whether or not you knew her personally.

    OT, this letter reminded me of an interview I had at a small firm which was formed out of the dissolution of a larger firm. The larger firm had been a fairly big name in our industry.

    During the interview, no one ever mentioned the larger firm by name. I never found out why, because I wouldn’t have gone for a second interview if I had gotten it. But it would’ve been interesting to know.

    1. LW3/OP3*

      Unfortunately there is not that much that I can share. Privacy is important here. But I think what someone suggested above about mentioning that it has been difficult but that we are very happy to have them here and to open up for talking to me if something appears on the topic will be doing quite a bit. At least I hope so.

  50. AceyAceyAcey*

    Regarding LW 1, golf is one of the top ways to have de facto sexism in the workplace even without explicit sexism.

  51. e271828*

    To OP2, I wouldn’t call William’s joke “offensive” to Kate, just “annoying.” Don’t elevate it above its level. She needs to keep her personal annoyances out of the workplace.

    People all over the world, including the UK and Commonwealth countries, were making the same remark.

  52. Jennifer Terry*

    The only way the Prince Charles joke would be inappropriate would be if “Kate” is actually a fake name for Meghan Markle or someone else loosely related to the royal family. She’s the only one of them I can think of that might possibly be in a work-related meeting. I’m surprised that this behavior was allowed to go on for this long. Many people would have already been put on a PIP and on their way to being fired. Is there some sort of privilege at play here? Does “Kate” have a relative or good friend higher up?

  53. blueberry*

    I (woman, mid 30s) always thought golf was boring, then I started playing. It’s still kind of boring, but it’s also fun to walk around and whack a ball with a stick. Obviously, this doesn’t solve letter writer’s problem, but I feel like most golfers appreciate the effort, even if not perfection. Plus sometimes there are snacks, soooo.

  54. Former Golfer*

    Golf is a very difficult game to play well, and takes a lot of time. And it’s not cheap. I would find a better place to work.

  55. Fleur-de-Lis*

    LW #3, I’m so sorry. This is a terrible time for everyone.

    It may also be helpful to think about what might be different for the role going forward, if anything, so you’re not looking for a 1:1 successor situation if at all possible. I see further up the thread that you trade tasks and projects often.

    I was the successor on a committee where someone passed away unexpectedly and at a very young age. I didn’t know that was the case, and it was awkward for a while until I figured out what happened on my own. It’s better to be up front, within reason. I’d suggest being more forthcoming about the circumstances with the new hire than with candidates, but being clear that the person did pass away.

    My condolences to you and your team.

  56. Anonri*

    LW2 – I think the joke is a touch more than mildly offensive, I do think the “royalist” part has overshadowed the “ageist joke by a manager” part. Kate’s acting unreasonably, but that’s not a joke I’d be laughing at, it’s one I’d be sideyeing along with the people agreeing.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Could you explain how you find it ageist? A few people have said that it is, and I really don’t see it.

    2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Except it was not at all ageist. It did not suggest he was hired or not hired for his age (he wasn’t hired or not hired at all; he succeeded), and it did not suggest his age made him incompetent or a bad choice for the role (also not a choice situation). It was a dig at two different points: it was saying that Charles has not had to ever hold a job until 73 due to his privilege (not entirely true, but this is a joke), and that it’s crazy that he was born to do this job and yet was unable to do the job until he turned 73 (which is a dig at the institution of the monarchy and the succession).

      No ageism in that comment at all.

  57. Free Meerkats*

    Two comments. For LW1, I worked with a manufacturing company where literally everyone, and I mean everyone, golfed together – CEO to janitor. It was pretty much required. The lobby had several state-of-the-art (for the time) simulators and pros on hand. Of course, it was Karsten Manufacturing back in the early 80s when they were fairly small; you might better know them as PING.

    For LW3, absolutely tell the candidates why the position is open. We went through replacing a well-liked coworker after he died from a brain tumor. It wasn’t easy, and the only office space available was his old office; but we let every applicant we interviewed know what was going on.

  58. EverythingIsInteresting*

    King Charles. The comment was “It looks like a 73-year-old man will finally get a job.” Is she offended because it’s about the royal family, or offended because it’s ageism? It’s not OK for her to respond the way she is in either case, but more understandable if it’s in response to the ageism. It’s the only “ism” that’s still apparently OK to joke about. I hope that stops in my lifetime.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      It’s not ageism. Please read a bunch of the comments above to understand why it’s not.

      Not everything that includes age is ageist. If you think that, it’s time to put your social justice warrior training wheels back on.

      1. Calamity Janine*

        i even have come along with a handy comment just underneath this one about how, in fact, if in social justice warrior-ing you decide social justice means “elevating complete non-issues to be equal in importance to very real issues that are out to kill me and those like me”, that’s a complete failure. and an important part of those issues is actually *listening* to marginalized people, not just deciding you know better than they do by fiat.

        it turns out the supposed crusaders in the comments here are entirely doing that, while not helping a single bit lol, but still wanting to be praised for their virtue. not the first time my disabled butt has encountered such. but boy do i hope against hope that it would be the last…

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I agree completely! They are escalating minor or even non-existent issues and burying the very real and very dangerous ones in the process. And they are undermining the real messages behind social justice, because once people see so many absurd messages labeled as social justice, they will discount all of the messages, including the very real ones!

    2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Except it was not at all ageist. It did not suggest he was hired or not hired for his age (he wasn’t hired or not hired at all; he succeeded), and it did not suggest his age made him incompetent or a bad choice for the role (also not a choice situation). It was a dig at two different points: it was saying that Charles has not had to ever hold a job until 73 due to his privilege (not entirely true, but this is a joke), and that it’s crazy that he was born to do this job and yet was unable to do the job until he turned 73 (which is a dig at the institution of the monarchy and the succession).

      No ageism in that comment at all.

  59. Calamity Janine*

    anyway after my valid righteous anger, here is bad advice that you shouldn’t do, LW1:

    Women’s. Only. Company. Puttputt. League.

    the golf training sim? great! it’s now being taken over for your puttputt league. ask an intern to jailbreak some more fun game in there or even just exclusively train putting while blasting silly music and not paying attention at all to the ‘coaching’. oh, there’s a new bar? great! your league will be taking up space in it, sipping Pink Squirrels and Gimlets, before you go discuss company business on the local silly puttputt range. in fact, you’re going to take a page from the books of the other workers – and you’ve suddenly decided that business meetings with clients and vendors, if you can schedule any of those, will be at the local institution of themed putting holes with the silly little windmill you have to putt the ball through, and the pirate ship themed hole where the hole itself is in an x-marks-the-spot style treasure chest (oh you know the one, they had full animatronics once, but it’s still cute to have a sudden yar-har-har theme in there for a bit).

    the rental clubs are going to be way cheaper, the exercise far less strenuous and easier to get into (with courses designed for children to complete, after all), and nobody even has to worry about buying a new wardrobe or joining a country club!

    and if the upper management complains, well, you’re just trying to keep pace with company culture, but in a way you can participate…

    note: women’s only can be dropped if needed. however, if they’re going to play nonsensical little gender games? go for the throat. …invite all their secretaries and also all their wives. it’s a teambuilding exercise. they’ll just have to manage without those presences in the office, now, won’t they? (or when appealing to their spouses… “how many times has he told you that he’s busy at the golf course, so you’ll have to deal with something like childcare all alone, again? don’t you also deserve some time for yourself? come play a round with us!”)

    what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, surely…

    (note: don’t actually do this. it is likely to lead to them all throwing a five-alarm shitfit and thanks to misogyny, it will come down squarely on your head, and they will just make the insular club more insular. in fact, i don’t think this is actually that worth breaking into, because the golf is a symptom of the problem, and the problem is that your company is full of bees. but, y’know, dream a little dream, laugh a little laugh…)

  60. Jackie Straw from Wichita*

    LW4, did you hire my old manager? We were hired on the same day, and within weeks it was clear she was on over her head. WAY OVER. By the time we were a month in, I was being thrown under the bus daily because, also being new, I was an easy and obvious scapegoat. If they’d have demoted her, I would’ve quit on the spot. Luckily, her boss (who was also my boss as she got acclimated) saw what was happening and let her go before her 90 day probation period was up.

    Two+ years later, I’m in the 1% of employees in our yearlong leadership program, and she’s a distant memory. I 100% would’ve quit if they hadn’t let her go, partly because I would’ve never trusted their judgement and partly because I was MISERABLE. Don’t do that to your other employees.

    1. Fiorinda*

      And King Charles II once had one of his own annoyed courtiers stick a note on his door that read:

      We have a pretty witty king
      Whose word no man relies on
      He never says a foolish thing
      Nor ever does a wise one.

      Of course, Charles II actually being quite a witty type, he was able to come back with the reply, “Very true. My words are my own; my actions are my ministers”. Though I’m not sure that’s the defence he thought it was!

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