Ceremonial Officers of England


In modern-day Britain, there are a great number of governmental, judicial and servile positions which are largely representational; that is to say, they are mainly or wholly ceremonial and have no function outside the upholding of a certain tradition – often at great financial cost to the public.

All the offices which are discussed below are related in some way to the British monarchy, and although historically they were some of the most powerful positions in the British government, the holders of the majority of these offices do not have any political power today – which, arguably, makes their upholding even more indefensible.

“Any kind of aristocracy, howsoever pruned, is rightly an insult; but if you are born and brought up under that sort of arrangement you probably never find it out for yourself, and don’t believe it when somebody else tells you.” – Mark Twain

Great Officers of State (incomplete)

  • Lord High Steward
    The officer who carries St. Edward’s crown during the coronation of the British monarch.
  • Lord High Chancellor
    The custodian of the Great Seal of the Realm.
  • Lord President of the Council
    The minister who presents new business to the Privy Council (the council which advises the British monarch about affairs of state).
  • Lord Great Chamberlain
    The officer in charge of Buckingham Palace.
  • Lord Privy Seal
    The custodian of the monarch’s Privy Seal.
  • Lord High Constable of England
    The ceremonial chief of the Royal Army.
  • Earl Marshal
    The officer who is charge of organising Royal funerals and coronations.
  • Lord High Admiral
    The titular head of the Royal Navy.

Ceremonial Officers (incomplete)

  • Lord Lieutenants (and their Deputies)
    The monarch’s personal representative in a Lieutenancy.
  • High Sheriffs (and their Undersheriffs)
    The monarch’s judicial representative in a Reeve.
  • Stewards, Chancellors, Admirals, Keepers, Receivers, Solicitors, Wardens, Surveyors, Auditors and Heralds of the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall
    The Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall are the rental properties of the British Monarch and the Prince of Wales respectively.
  • Kings of Arms, Heralds, Pursuivants and Inspectors
    The officers of arms manage heraldic and armorial matters and participate in Royal ceremonies.
  • Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
    An officer who is titularly responsible for the defence of Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich.
  • Warden and Marker of the Swans
    These officers concern themselves with swan welfare on behalf of the British Monarch, who holds the title ‘Seigneur of the Swans’, and owns all mute swans in Britain.

Royal Household Officers (incomplete)

  • Royal Bodyguards, Yeomen and Archers
    These are the ceremonial bodyguards of the British Monarch. Their commanders are known as Gold Stick and Silver Stick.
  • Chief Butler of England
    This office organises the coronation banquet for each newly crowned British Monarch.
  • Mistress of the Robes
    This office manages the clothes and jewellery of the Queen of England.
  • Pages of the Backstairs, Presence and Honour
    These are titles given to the people who serve dinner to the British monarch, announce guests at events at Buckingham Palace, and carry the Queen’s train at official occasions.

“One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion.” – Thomas Paine, Common Sense

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9 thoughts on “Ceremonial Officers of England

  1. It’s all there to keep us distracted, and think there is some meaning to the monarchy. Ludicrous that we live in this Emperor’s-New-Clothes sort of realm, and that most of its exemplars have to wear hose when in full ceremonial dress, and that’s only the men. Who knows what the Mistress of Robes wears? I’ve not seen on of those.

  2. I can’t help wondering what the salary breakdown is for each of those.

    Chief Butler of England
    This office organises the coronation banquet for each newly crowned British Monarch.

    So this guy, for example, goes to work every 30-50 years? Sweet job!

  3. The current Mistress of the Robes, Ann Fortune FitzRoy, Dowager Duchess of Grafton, widow of Hugh FitzRoy, 11th Duke of Grafton, has had the position since 1967. Before that, between 1953-1966, she was a Lady of the Bedchamber, that is to say, personal attendant, to Queen Elizabeth II.

  4. With regard to Pages of the Backstairs, Presence and Honour i.e. people who serve dinner to the British monarch, announce guests at events at Buckingham Palace, and carry the Queen’s train at official occasions – yes, I would call that slavish behaviour. No individual has to be whipped while carrying large stones up a sunlit hill to exhibit slavish behaviour. That is to say, there is a difference between a slave and someone who exhibits slavish behaviour.

  5. If that link was intended to serve as a rebuttal of Kuba’s definition, Hampshire, I saw nothing that would indicate that it had served its purpose – it seemed to agree with her position, inasmuch as she was referring to people employed as servants to the British Royalty.

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