Lord Great Chamberlain

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The Lord Great Chamberlain (right, with wand of office) welcomes The Queen to her Palace of Westminster for the State Opening of Parliament.

The Lord Great Chamberlain is the sixth of the Great Officers of State (not to be confused with the Great Offices of State), ranking beneath the Lord Privy Seal and above the Lord High Constable. The Lord Great Chamberlain has charge over the Palace of Westminster (though since the 1960s his personal authority has been limited to the royal apartments and Westminster Hall). The Lord Great Chamberlain also has a major part to play in royal coronations, having the right to dress the monarch on coronation day and to serve the monarch water before and after the coronation banquet, and also being involved in investing the monarch with the insignia of rule[citation needed]. He wears a distinctive scarlet court uniform and bears a gold key and a white stave as the insignia of his office.

The position is a hereditary one, held since 1780 in gross. At any one time, a single person actually exercises the office of Lord Great Chamberlain. The various individuals who hold fractions of the Lord Great Chamberlainship are technically each Joint Hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain, and the right to exercise the office for a given reign rotates proportionately to the fraction of the office held. For instance, the Marquesses of Cholmondeley hold one-half of the office, and may therefore exercise the office or appoint a deputy every alternate reign. (A Deputy Lord Great Chamberlain is a person exercising the office who is not personally a co-heir to the office; historically these have been sons or husbands of co-heirs as the office has never been exercised by a woman, as women were barred from sitting in the Lords until the present reign).

The office of Lord Great Chamberlain is distinct from the non-hereditary office of Lord Chamberlain of the Household, a position in the monarch's household. This office arose in the 14th century as a deputy of the Lord Great Chamberlain to fulfil the latter's duties in the Royal Household, but now they are quite distinct.

The House of Lords Act 1999 removed the automatic right of hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords, but the Act provided that a hereditary peer exercising the office of Lord Great Chamberlain (as well as the Earl Marshal) be exempt from such a rule, in order to perform ceremonial functions.

History of the office[edit]

The office was originally held by Robert Malet, a son of one of the leading companions of William the Conqueror. In 1133, however, King Henry I declared Malet's estates and titles forfeit, and awarded the office of Lord Great Chamberlain to Aubrey de Vere, whose son was created Earl of Oxford. Thereafter, the Earls of Oxford held the title almost continuously until 1526, with a few intermissions due to the forfeiture of some Earls for treason. In 1526, however, the fourteenth Earl of Oxford died, leaving his aunts as his heirs. The earldom was inherited by a more distant heir-male, his second cousin. The Sovereign then decreed that the office belonged to The Crown, and was not transmitted along with the earldom. The Sovereign appointed the fifteenth Earl to the office, but the appointment was deemed for life and was not heritable. The family's association with the office was interrupted in 1540, when the fifteenth earl died and Thomas Cromwell, the King's chief adviser, was appointed Lord Great Chamberlain.[1] After Cromwell's attainder and execution later the same year, the office passed through a few more court figures, until 1553, when it was passed back to the De Vere family, the sixteenth Earl of Oxford, again as an uninheritable life appointment.[2] Later, Queen Mary I ruled that the Earls of Oxford were indeed entitled to the office of Lord Great Chamberlain on an hereditary basis.

Thus, the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth Earls of Oxford held the position on a hereditary basis until 1626, when the eighteenth Earl died, again leaving a distant relative as heir male, but a closer one as a female heir. The House of Lords eventually ruled that the office belonged to the heir male, Robert Bertie, 14th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, who later became Earl of Lindsey. The office remained vested in the Earls of Lindsey, who later became Dukes of Ancaster and Kesteven. In 1779, however, the fourth Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven died, leaving two sisters as female heirs, and an uncle as an heir male. The uncle became the fifth and last Duke, but the House of Lords ruled that the two sisters were jointly Lord Great Chamberlain and could appoint a Deputy to fulfil the functions of the office. The barony of Willoughby de Eresby went into abeyance between the two sisters, but the Sovereign terminated the abeyance and granted the title to the elder sister, Priscilla Bertie, 21st Baroness Willoughby de Eresby. The younger sister later married the first Marquess of Cholmondeley. The office of Lord Great Chamberlain, however, was divided between Priscilla and her younger sister Georgiana. Priscilla's share was eventually split between two of her granddaughters, and has been split several more times since then. By contrast, Georgiana's share has been inherited by a single male heir each time; that individual has in each case been the Marquess of Cholmondeley, a title created for Georgiana's husband.

Lord Great Chamberlains, 1130-1779[edit]

Years Lord Great Chamberlain
 ??-1133 Robert Malet
1133-1141 Aubrey de Vere II
1141-1194 Aubrey de Vere, 1st Earl of Oxford
1194-1214 Aubrey de Vere, 2nd Earl of Oxford
1214-1221 Robert de Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford
1221-1263 Hugh de Vere, 4th Earl of Oxford
1263-1265 Robert de Vere, 5th Earl of Oxford
1265-1267 unclear, perhaps vacant.
1267-1296 unclear, perhaps again Robert de Vere, 5th Earl of Oxford
1296–1331 Robert de Vere, 6th Earl of Oxford
1331–1360 John de Vere, 7th Earl of Oxford
1360-1371 Thomas de Vere, 8th Earl of Oxford
1371–1388 Robert de Vere, 9th Earl of Oxford
1389–1399 John Holland, 1st Duke of Exeter
1399–1400 Aubrey de Vere, 10th Earl of Oxford
1400–1417 Richard de Vere, 11th Earl of Oxford
1417-1462 John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford
1462–1475 John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford
1475–1485 unclear, perhaps Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, perhaps still the Earl of Oxford
1485–1513 John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford
1513–1526 John de Vere, 14th Earl of Oxford
1526–1540 John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford
1540–1540 Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex
1540–1542 Robert Radcliffe, 1st Earl of Sussex
1543–1549 Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford
1549–1550 John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick
1550–1553 William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton
1553–1562 John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford
1562–1604 Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
1604–1625 Henry de Vere, 18th Earl of Oxford
1626–1642 Robert Bertie, 1st Earl of Lindsey
1642–1666 Montagu Bertie, 2nd Earl of Lindsey
1666–1701 Robert Bertie, 3rd Earl of Lindsey
1701–1723 Robert Bertie, 1st Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven
1723–1742 Peregrine Bertie, 2nd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven
1742–1778 Peregrine Bertie, 3rd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven
1778–1779 Robert Bertie, 4th Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven

Joint Hereditary Lord Great Chamberlains, 1780-present[edit]

The fractions show the holder's share in the office, and the date they held it. The current (as of 2014) holders of the office are shown in bold face.

Peregrine Bertie, 3rd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Priscilla Bertie, 21st Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
1⁄2 1780–1828
 
Georgiana Cholmondeley, Marchioness of Cholmondeley
1⁄2 1780–1838
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Peter Drummond-Burrell, 22nd Baron Willoughby de Eresby
1⁄2 1828–1865
 
George Cholmondeley, 2nd Marquess of Cholmondeley
1⁄2 1838–1870
 
William Cholmondeley, 3rd Marquess of Cholmondeley
1⁄2 1870–1884
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Albyric Drummond-Willoughby, 23rd Baron Willoughby de Eresby
1⁄2 1865–1870
 
Clementina Drummond-Willoughby, 24th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
1⁄4 1870–1888
 
Charlotte Augusta Carrington, Baroness Carrington
1⁄4 1870–1879
 
Charles George Cholmondeley, Viscount Malpas
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 1st Earl of Ancaster
1⁄4 1888–1910
 
Robert Wynn-Carrington, 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire
1⁄4 1879–1928
George Cholmondeley, 4th Marquess of Cholmondeley
1⁄2 1884–1923
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 2nd Earl of Ancaster
1⁄4 1910–1951
 
Marjorie Wilson, Baroness Nunburnholme
1⁄20 1928–1968
Lady Alexandra Llewellen Palmer
1⁄20 1928–1955
Ruperta Legge, Countess of Dartmouth
1⁄20 1928–1963
Judith Keppel, Countess of Albemarle
 
Lady Victoria Weld-Forester
1⁄20 1928–1966
 
George Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley
1⁄2 1923–1968
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster
1⁄4 1951–1983
 
Charles Wilson, 3rd Baron Nunburnholme
1⁄20 1968–1974
 
Brig. Anthony Llewellen Palmer
1⁄20 1955–1990
Timothy Llewellen Palmer
 
 
Derek Keppel, Viscount Bury
1⁄20 1928–1968
 
Sir Henry Legge-Bourke
1⁄20 1966–1973
 
Hugh Cholmondeley, 6th Marquess of Cholmondeley
1⁄2 1968–1990
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jane Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 28th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
1⁄4 1983–
 
Ben Wilson, 4th Baron Nunburnholme
1⁄20 1974–1998
Julian Llewellen Palmer
1⁄20 1990–2002
 
 
Rufus Keppel, 10th Earl of Albemarle
1⁄20 1968–
 
William Legge-Bourke
1⁄20 1973–2009
 
David Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley
1⁄2 1990–
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nicholas Llewellen Palmer
1⁄20 2002–
Lady Mary Findlay
1⁄100 1963–2003
 
Lady Elizabeth Basset
1⁄100 1963–2000
 
Lady Diana Matthews
1⁄100 1963–1970
 
Lady Barbara Kwiatkowska
1⁄100 1963–2013
 
Josceline Chichester, Marchioness of Donegall
1⁄100 1963–1995
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cdr Jonathan Findlay
1⁄100 2003–
 
Bryan Basset
1⁄100 2000–
 
Col James Gustavus Hamilton-Russell
1⁄100 1970–
 
Jan Witold Kwiatkowski
1⁄100 2013–
 
Patrick Chichester, 8th Marquess of Donegall
1⁄100 1995–
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Hon. Lorraine Wilson
1⁄80 1998–
The Hon. Tatiana Dent
1⁄80 1998–
The Hon. Ines Garton
1⁄80 1998–
The Hon. Ysabel Wilson
1⁄80 1998–
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Capt. Harry Russell Legge-Bourke
1⁄20 2009–

Persons exercising the office of Lord Great Chamberlain, 1780-present[edit]

Monarch Acted as Lord Great Chamberlain Years
George III Peter Burrell, 1st Baron Gwydyr as Deputy 1780–1820
George IV Peter Burrell, 1st Baron Gwydyr as Deputy 1820–1821
Peter Drummond-Willoughby, 2nd Baron Gwydyr as Deputy 1821–1828
Peter Drummond-Willoughby, 22nd Baron Willoughby de Eresby 1828–1830
William IV George Cholmondeley, 2nd Marquess of Cholmondeley as Deputy 1830–1837
Victoria Peter Drummond-Willoughby, 22nd Baron Willoughby de Eresby 1837–1865
Albyric Drummond-Willoughby, 23rd Baron Willoughby de Eresby 1865–1870
Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 2nd Baron Aveland as Deputy 1871–1888
Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 1st Earl of Ancaster 1888–1901
Edward VII George Cholmondeley, 4th Marquess of Cholmondeley 1901–1910
George V Robert Wynn Carrington, 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire 1910–1928
William Legge, Viscount Lewisham as Deputy 1928–1936
Edward VIII George Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley 1936
George VI Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 2nd Earl of Ancaster 1936–1951
James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd Earl of Ancaster 1951–1952
Elizabeth II George Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley 1952–1966
George Cholmondeley, Earl of Rocksavage as Deputy 1966–1968
George Cholmondeley, 6th Marquess of Cholmondeley 1968–1990
David Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley 1990–

Current rotation[edit]

The rotation switches to the next person in line or his or her representative at the death of each monarch.

  1. The Hon Lorraine Wilson
  2. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  3. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  4. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  5. Nicholas Llewellen Palmer
  6. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  7. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  8. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  9. Jonathan Findlay
  10. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  11. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  12. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  13. The Earl of Albemarle
  14. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  15. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  16. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  17. Capt Harry Russell Legge-Bourke
  18. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  19. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  20. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  21. Hon Tatiana Dent
  22. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  23. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  24. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  25. Nicholas Llewellen Palmer
  26. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  27. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  28. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  29. Bryan Ronald Basset
  30. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  31. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  32. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  33. The Earl of Albemarle
  34. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  35. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  36. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  37. Capt Harry Russell Legge-Bourke
  38. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  39. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  40. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  41. Hon Ines Garton
  42. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  43. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  44. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  45. Nicholas Llewellen Palmer
  46. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  47. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  48. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  49. James Hamilton-Russell
  50. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  51. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  52. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  53. The Earl of Albemarle
  54. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  55. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  56. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  57. Capt Harry Russell Legge-Bourke
  58. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  59. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  60. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  61. Hon Ysabel Wilson
  62. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  63. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  64. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  65. Nicholas Llewellen Palmer
  66. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  67. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  68. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  69. Jan Witold Kwiatkowski
  70. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  71. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  72. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  73. The Earl of Albemarle
  74. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  75. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  76. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  77. Capt Harry Russell Legge-Bourke
  78. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  79. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  80. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  81. Hon Lorraine Wilson
  82. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  83. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  84. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  85. Nicholas Llewellen Palmer
  86. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  87. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  88. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  89. The Marquess of Donegall
  90. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  91. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  92. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  93. The Earl of Albemarle
  94. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  95. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  96. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  97. Capt Harry Russell Legge-Bourke
  98. The Marquess of Cholmondeley
  99. The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
  100. The Marquess of Cholmondeley

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thomas Mortimer (ed.). The British Plutarch. p. 115. 
  2. ^ Loades, D. (2004) Intrigue and Treason: the Tudor Court, 1547-1558 Harlow: Pearson, p.309

External links[edit]