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Serve at the leisure of my king

Posted by Victoria Dennis on January 25, 2007

In Reply to: Serve at the leisure of my king posted by Bob on January 25, 2007

: : I have this phrase running through my head that describes my job situation; "i serve at the leisure of my king", or something along those lines. Has anyone heard of this and can they tell me where I might have heard it?

: "serve at the pleasure of the President" is far and away the winner in Google hits on this. More than a million. "serve at the pleasure of the King" trails far behind. Apparently it's more an American phrase. "Leisure" barely surfaces, probably as a mis-hearing.

: It's a condition of employment in high levels of American government, in the executive branch. Each White House staffer, each Cabinet Secretary, etc., submits an undated letter of resignation when they take the job, and the Prez can pull it out when needed. They can remain in office only if it pleases the boss.

A different but related use of "at pleasure" as a legal vagueness: in Britain juveniles who commit really serious crimes (murder and so on), who cannot legally be given adult-length sentences, are sentenced to imprisonment "at Her Majesty's Pleasure", which basically means "we'll let you out when we're ready to do so". (VSD)