Seeing double: Meet the identical twins working inside Parliament
Robert and Neil in the Dominican Republic, 2017
Identical twins Robert and Neil Faust work together in Parliament, often leading to confusion over who is who. The brothers speak to Sophie Church about their experiences
“Members of Parliament often look at me and do a double take. They say: ‘Hello, Neil’ and I think: ‘How can I tell this poor person, I’m not Neil, I’m Robert.’ So I say: ‘By the way, I've got a twin brother and he is a doorkeeper,’ and that clears the air.”
Neil and Robert Faust have worked together in various jobs throughout their lives, and being twins has often baffled those around them. From joining the civil service together at the age of 18 to serving in the police at the same time, they have always tried to work in different departments to avoid mix ups. But being identical twins, mistakes can sometimes happen.
In January, Robert started as a visitor assistant in Parliament. He was told about the job by his brother, who has been working in Westminster for nearly five years – first as a security officer, then as a senior doorkeeper in the public gallery.
I bumped into a parliamentarian in the cafe that knew Robert and I ignored them. They thought it was Robert being rude to them!
“I thoroughly enjoy being a visitor assistant; it's a really nice team – we've got all ages, all nationalities, and we get on very well. I love going into Parliament to listen to the tour guides and feel the history,” Robert says.
While Robert works during recess and the odd Saturday and Neil Monday to Friday, their schedules can overlap when Robert is called in to cover shifts. “Normally, Robert gives people the tickets to go upstairs to the gallery where I work. They will then come up and see me in another uniform. They ask, confused: ‘How did you get upstairs before us?’” Neil says.
The public are not the only ones to mistake one twin for the other. “I bumped into a parliamentarian in the cafe that knew Robert and I ignored them. They thought it was Robert being rude to them!” says Neil. Similarly, when Robert moves around the building he is often stopped by Neil’s friends wanting a chat. The pair find it safer to say hello to everyone, whether they know them or not.
Sometimes, being mistaken for their twin has proved beneficial – like when Robert’s Metropolitan Police sergeant bought Neil a coffee thinking he was his brother. But at others, the mislabeling they have experienced for a lifetime can be wearing. “People staring is an everyday occurrence,” Neil says.
And sometimes they crave a little time apart. “If I went away on my own for a holiday, I would feel invisible. It would be a nice feeling not to be looked at and be thought of as two people. I am me. I would like to just go away on my own and know who I really am,” says Robert.
Despite these frustrations, Robert and Neil agree having a twin is better than having an ordinary brother. “It’s like having a best friend you can rely on.”
Robert recounts working through the night together at the Queen’s Lying-in-State: “Neil would bring me biscuits, with him in his bowtie and tails and me wrapped up in my scarf outside. Then we would meet up for coffee and breakfast at 2am to catch up.”
After a few weeks of probation, Robert has just had his job made permanent, which has delighted the brothers. “Now we work together, live together and go on holiday together – things work out quite strangely!”
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