Leicester

Actors asked to work without pay at Duke of Rutland's castle

The Duke of Rutland outside Belvoir Castle Image copyright Shutterstock
Image caption The Duke of Rutland owns Grade I-listed Belvoir Castle, which was built in the early 19th Century

The Duke of Rutland, who is reportedly worth £145m, has been criticised after actors were asked to work without pay at his stately home.

Belvoir Castle, where the 11th duke David Manners lives, advertised for actors to perform voluntarily as "Kings, Queens, Dukes and Duchesses".

One actor said the advert, which asks applicants to be "flexible" with working hours, was "outrageous".

Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire, has since taken down the advert.

A spokesperson for the Grade I-listed stately home said it had "no comment".

Performers union Equity said it took a "dim view" of anyone not paying actors.

The advert, which was posted on the website for the castle with the headline "volunteer performers", said the "interesting and historical castle is waiting to be brought to life with creative performances".

"If you have previous experience of acting, performing or characterisation skills we want to hear from you," it added.

The most recent Sunday Times Rich List estimated the Duke of Rutland to be worth £145m - the same as Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne.

An adult ticket for a guided tour of Belvoir Castle and its gardens in Leicestershire, costs £20, while to freely walk around the castle and gardens is £18.

One actor who criticised the advert online said the duke was treating his workers "like it's the dark ages".

On Twitter, The Actors Planet joked: "What a coincidence! It just so happens that we're looking for a volunteer castle to host our next party. Actors don't work for free, just like anyone else in any other profession."

Michael Forrest said: "This seems to be happening on a more regular basis. Totally unacceptable but it's up to actors to make a stand as well as @EquityUK."

Image copyright Shutterstock
Image caption David Manners, 59, succeeded to the dukedom in 1999

Ian Bayes, from Equity, said it took a "dim view" of anyone employing actors and not paying them.

He said: "They are potentially breaking the law because there is a national minimum wage."

Mr Bayes added that he would welcome the opportunity to open a dialogue with the castle to discuss proper rates of pay and conditions.

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In July 2016, the duke was banned from driving after amassing 24 points on his licence.

He was caught speeding twice in Nottinghamshire, once in North Yorkshire and again in Derbyshire in an eight-month period.

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