A royal household or imperial household is the residence and administrative headquarters in ancient and post-classical monarchies, and papal household for popes, and formed the basis for the general government of the country as well as providing for the needs of the sovereign and their relations. It was the core of the royal court, though this included many courtiers who were not directly employed by the monarch as part of the household.
There were often large numbers of employees in the household, strictly differentiated by rank, from nobles with highly sought-after positions that gave close access to the monarch, to all the usual servants such as cooks, footmen, and maids. The households typically included military forces providing security. Specialists such as artists, clock-makers and poets might be given a place in the household, often by appointing them as valet de chambre or the local equivalent.
Among many of these households there are certain great offices which have become, in course of time, merely hereditary. In most cases, as the name of the office would suggest, they were held by those who discharged personal functions about the sovereign. Gradually, in ways or for reasons which might vary in each individual case, the office alone survived, the duties either ceasing to be necessary or being transferred to officers of less exalted station.
In the modern period, royal households have evolved into entities which are variously differentiated from national governments. Most modern households have become merely titular.
Main article: Imperial Household Department
In Japan, the Imperial Household Agency (宮内庁, Kunaichō) is the agency within the Government of Japan responsible for supporting the Emperor and the Imperial Family as well as keeping the Privy Seal and Great Seal of Japan.
The Agency is headed by a director-general, who is assisted by the Cabinet-appointed deputy director. The internal organisation of the Agency can be seen below.
Auxiliary organs of the Agency include:
Local branch office:
Main article: Bureau of the Royal Household
The royal households of such of European monarchies have a continuous history since medieval times.
Main article: Royal household under the Merovingians and Carolingians
Main article: Maison du Roi
Main article: Ministry of the Imperial Court
Main articles: Royal Household of Spain and Royal Household and Heritage of the Crown of Spain
Main article: Royal Court of Sweden
Main article: Royal Households of the United Kingdom