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President Trump’s Valet Tested Positive for COVID-19... Wait, What’s a Valet?

幸运飞艇分析软件自动And is a valet different from a butler?

usa   politics   white house butlers prepare for congressional dinner at the white house
Brooks KraftGetty Images

Earlier this week, news broke that one of President Trump’s valets tested positive for COVID-19. The individual, whose name was not released, is one of the 100-or-so-member White House team that takes care of the President’s and the first family’s personal needs. Trump told reporters on Thursday that he had “very little contact, personal contact, with this gentleman” and therefore was not at risk of infection. But how realistic is that, really?

It isn’t often that one of Town & Country’s areas of expertise overlaps so perfectly with breaking international news. Allow us to walk you through some vital details.

First things first: How do you pronounce valet?

Andrew Gayman, chief associate at, a domestic service placement agency and training academy, has heard this word used many times during recent TV coverage, and he would like to clear something up. “A valet [second syllable rhymes with ‘pay’] is someone who parks your car when you go to a restaurant for dinner. A valet [second syllable rhymes with ‘bet’] is someone who attends to the gentlemen of the house and is the role we're talking about here. Same spelling. Very different meaning.”

franklin d roosevelt center, at marion, massachusetts with dr william mcdonald and his valet on the stone pier of th
President Franklin D. Roosevelt (center) with his valet (left) and his doctor (right) at the doctor’s home in Marion, Massachusetts.
HistoricalGetty Images

The President has a valet?

He has two or three, says Kate Andersen Brower, author of . “They work in shifts and are typically the first person the President sees in the morning and the last person he sees at night.” Brower, who interviewed dozens of former and current White House staff members for her book, says valets typically come to the job from a military background. “They dress the President, shine his shoes, and they go into the Oval Office in the morning and stand by in case the President needs a cup of coffee or even a cough drop.”

usa   politics   first family on vacation
In this 2009 photo, a White House valet escorted the Obama’s family dog, Bo, onto a military helicopter.
Brooks KraftGetty Images

Does the President have a butler as well?

“There are five or six of them. The number changes with each President,” says Brower, who researched her book when President Obama was in office. “Butlers work in rotations and on the second floor and third floor of the White House. But primarily the second floor, which is where the family dining room is and the bedrooms that the President and First Lady typically sleep in.”

usa   uk   politics   bush and blair press conference   butlers
White House butlers walked along a colonnade after leaving the Oval Office, where then-President George W. Bush was meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Brooks KraftGetty Images

Is there a difference between a valet and a butler?

幸运飞艇分析软件自动Indeed! “Historically, a valet’s responsibility is fairly intimate and personal and would include for example, the upkeep and maintenance of his employer’s clothing,” says Gayman. “He might do personal errands and services like delivering messages. In many cases, he becomes a confidante.” Valets also pack and unpack their employer’s clothing during trips. “If you send your employer out in a wrinkled suit, that reflects of course on your employer but it also reflects on the valet. There is pride in this role.”

Butlers, on the other hand, typically work in the front of the house, says Gayman. “They oversee the operation of the household. They attend to guests, supervise staff, and the food and beverage service.”

president bill clinton reading "the alchemist"
President Bill Clinton is pictured walking to the West Wing from the White House residence, with his personal valet, Manalito Bautista, at his direct right.
The Washington PostGetty Images

Is there, say, a popular TV show that could explain the difference?

For viewers of Downton Abbey, the positions held Mr. Bates and Mr. Carson provide a helpful example, says Gayman. “Bates was the valet to Lord Grantham and was rarely in the front of the house. Instead you’d see him dressing Grantham, brushing his suit, and shining his shoes. Mr. Carson, on the other hand, was receiving guests on behalf of his employer—the front of the house—and watching over the staff.”

carson butler
Carson = Butler. 
©PBS/Courtesy Everett Collection
bates valet
Bates = Valet. 
Courtesy PBS

How closely, exactly, does a valet work with the boss?

幸运飞艇分析软件自动“This is somebody who, aside the President's family, is probably in the closest physical contact with the President,” says Brower. “To me, it is the most surprising member of the resident staff to have the coronavirus because it's the most consequential person that you could think of. Unless this person was not on duty, or for some reason had not been rotated in and out, he would have been close to the President."

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