James Saunders Watson – HM Lord-Lieutenant
Duties of the Lord-Lieutenant
The fundamental principle concerning the office of Lord-Lieutenant is that he/she is Her Majesty’s representative in the County and consequently it is the first and foremost duty to uphold the dignity of the Crown.
The Lord-Lieutenant, following the example of Her Majesty The Queen, seeks to promote a good atmosphere and a spirit of co-operation by the encouragement given to voluntary services and to benevolent organisations, and by the interest taken in the industrial and social life of the County.
The main duties of the Lord-Lieutenant may be classified under the following:
Hosting visits by members of the Royal Family to the County
Presentation of awards and medals
Representing Her Majesty The Queen at events in the County
Appointment of the Vice Lord-Lieutenant and Deputy Lieutenants
Is the Queen’s representative in the County for the Armed Forces, reserves and cadets
Supporting the uniformed emergency services and cadets
Is the ‘Custos Rotulorum’ (the Keeper of the Rolls in the County)
Chairing the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee (the Magistracy)
Promoting Civic, Commerce, Heritage, The Arts, Education and Sport
Supporting the non-uniformed services
Visiting and supporting charitable organisations
Visits of Members of the Royal Family to the County
It is the role of the Lord-Lieutenant to welcome any member of the Royal Family to the county if it is an official visit. Recent royal visits to the county have included:
27th April 2021 – The Princess Royal visited Siri Guru Singh Sabha Northampton and Sikh Community Centre and Youth Club, Bambino Mio Ltd – Brixworth and Scott Bader Company Ltd, Wellingnorough.
14th October 2020 – The Princess Royal visited Wellingborough School and Blisworth Marina, Crusader Community Boating
23rd May 2019 – The Duke of Gloucester visited SATRA, Boughton House and the Northern Accommodation Block for Northamptonshire Police, all in or near Kettering
5th April 2019 – The Princess Royal attended the Corporate Member Day of the Chartered Institute of Logistics UK in Daventry
28th January 2019 – HRH The Prince of Wales visited two shoe companies: Trickers in Northampton and Gaziano & Girling in Kettering
20th November 2018 – The Countess of Wessex visited Fairfields School, Northampton
21st September 2018 – The Princess Royal visited The Daylight Centre, Save the Children in Higham Ferrers and Northampton Town Football Club Education Centre, Northampton
7th March 2018 – HRH Prince Harry, Royal Patron of The Silverstone Experience, visited The Silverstone Experience and UTC
Requesting a visit by a member of the Royal Family
If you would like to request a member of the Royal Family to visit your organisation, you need to write to the Private Secretary to the member of the Royal Family you wish to invite at least six months ahead of the planned event. The addresses are available on the website for the Royal Family: www.royal.uk/contact. It is most helpful if you can inform the Lord-Lieutenant if you have submitted an invitation please.
If the member of the Royal Family is able to accept an invitation, the Lord-Lieutenant is informed by the appropriate Private Secretary about three months ahead of the event. Details of the visits are often not publicised until much closer to the date.
Presentation of Medals
Her Majesty The Queen may express her wish that a Lord-Lieutenant should present certain medals on her behalf, including British Empire Medals, Queen’s Police Medals, Fire Service Medals, Queen’s Commendations for Brave Conduct and the Legion d’Honneur for D-Day Veterans.
It is the duty of the Lord-Lieutenant in these circumstances to make the presentation himself whenever possible, though the duty may be deputed if necessary. He usually makes the presentation either by visiting the home, a place of work of the recipient or at County Hall.
At private investitures, it is customary for a few guests to be drawn from the civic authorities and the recipient’s employer and family.
To allow time for the engraving and distribution of medals, it is desirable to arrange the presentation ceremony not less than about eight weeks after the publication of the Honours List.
When presenting medals on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, The Lord-Lieutenant wears uniform since he is directly representing Her Majesty.
Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force
The Lord-Lieutenant may be called upon to carry out a variety of duties connected with the armed forces of the Crown, as for example:
He may be commanded by Her Majesty The Queen to present colours
He may be invited by the Commander concerned:
- to inspect troops on parade, including taking the salute on arrival and during the march past
- to inspect a guard of honour
- to receive colours at a laying up ceremony
- to receive units on their return from services overseas
- to take part in various ceremonial functions.
In all events the Lord-Lieutenant will wear the uniform of Lord-Lieutenant and take precedence of all those attending, including Ministers of the Crown.
A Lord-Lieutenant is entitled to inspect and to take salute at a parade of his County Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve units in any county where they may be stationed. It is usual, as an act of courtesy, to notify his intention to the Lord-Lieutenant of the county to be visited.
When the Lord-Lieutenant has been expressly instructed to deputise for the Sovereign, for instance when Her Majesty has instructed the Lord-Lieutenant to present colours on Her behalf, he should be received with a Royal salute and the National Anthem should be played.
On all other occasions, the Lord-Lieutenant should be saluted by troops in his capacity as military commander, that is to say, he should be received with a general salute and by the band playing the first part of a slow march, not the National Anthem.
When a regiment parades for the purposes of receiving the equivalent of the freedom of a city or borough, it is right to make the Lord Mayor or Mayor of the city or borough make the presentation and take the salute.
Custos Rotulorum and Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee
The custos rotulorum is the keeper of an English, Welsh and Northern Irish county’s records and, by virtue of that office, the highest civil officer in the county. The position is now largely ceremonial. The appointment until 1545, lay with the Lord Chancellor, but is now exercised by the Crown, under the Royal sign-manual, and was usually held by a person of rank. The appointment has been united with that of the lord-lieutenancy of the county throughout England since 1836.
In practice, the records were in the custody of the clerk of the peace. This latter official was, until 1888, appointed by the custos rotulorum, but following the passing of the Local Government Act of that year, the appointment was made by the standing joint-committee of the county council. The post of clerk of the peace was abolished by the Courts Act 1971.