Great Officers of State

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Lord High Steward, Lord High Treasurer, Earl Marshal and Lord High Admiral Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk

The great officer of state (Large state officials) are in the UK senior officials particularly on behalf of the Kingdom of administrative , executive and judicial perform tasks. They are to be distinguished from the court officials who are obliged to the royal household ( Royal Household ). There have already been high officers in England, Scotland and Ireland.

Since the Great Officers once had great political influence and were able to bequeath their titles, some of them were largely disempowered in the past centuries, or their duties were taken over by the crown. Today, ministers or members of the House of Lords and House of Commons traditionally take over their offices , with some only being filled for special ceremonies.

The Great Officers of State are thus comparable to the arch offices of the Holy Roman Empire and the Grands Officiers de la Couronne de France .


The Great Officers of England, their approximate German equivalents, and their current office holders are:

rank Office German Official
1 Lord High Steward Court Marshal Vacant (only occupied for the coronation)
2 Lord High Chancellor
(alternatively: Lord Keeper of the Great Seal )
Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland ( Attorney General )
3 Lord High Treasurer Treasurer Shared by the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury chaired by the First Lord of the Treasury Boris Johnson ( Prime Minister )
4th Lord President of the Council Chairman of the Privy Council Jacob Rees-Mogg ( Leader of the House of Commons )
5 Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal Seal keeper Natalie Evans, Baroness Evans of Bowes Park ( Leader of the House of Lords )
6th Lord Great Chamberlain Chamberlain David Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley
7th Lord High Constable Constable Vacant
8th Earl Marshal Arch Marshal Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk
9 Lord High Admiral Grand Admiral Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

According to the House of Lords Act 1999 , the Earl Marshal and the Lord Great Chamberlain are the only holders of a hereditary nobility who automatically take a seat in the House of Lords. They perform ceremonial tasks there. Since 1780, the office of Lord Chamberlain has been carried out by several owners with differently weighted shares, who in turn pass on their shares.

Other offices are held in commission, i. H. several commission agents are assigned to manage the official business together. The High Treasury has been run by a commission since 1714, chaired by the First Lord (also Prime Minister ) and the Second Lord (also Finance Minister, known as the Chancellor of the Exchequer ) as deputies. It is only in this capacity that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer live in 10 Downing Street and 11 Downing Street respectively .

The office of Lord Admiral was also carried out in commission for a long time, but - with the establishment of a uniform Ministry of Defense for all branches of the armed forces - was initially taken over by the monarch himself and more recently as an honorary title to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh , the Queen's husband, the was formerly a naval officer. The post of Lord High Steward is an ad hoc office and is only filled at coronation ceremonies and elevations to the nobility. A lord constable is only called for coronation ceremonies . The remaining offices - Lord Chancellor, Lord President and Lord Privy Seal - are occupied by the Crown on the proposal of the Prime Minister. Typically, the "Chairs" of the House of Commons and House of Lords (that is, the Chairs of the ruling faction in their respective Houses) serve as Lord President and Lord Privy Seal .

The Great Officers of State are not to be confused with the Great Offices of State , the four highest offices in the UK Cabinet: Prime Minister , Chancellor of the Exchequer , Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary .


As an ancient kingdom, Scotland has its own Great Officers of State. After the Act of Union 1707 , a number of offices were suspended. These include those of the Lord Chancellor of Scotland and the President of the Privy Council of Scotland . In Scotland, in addition to the Officers of State , there are Officers of the Crown as civil servants.

As in England, the existing offices are partly hereditary. On the other hand, they are awarded by the crown. As a rule, political power today is no longer associated with such an office; rather, the respective holder has exclusively ceremonial tasks. Some of the offices have tasks in the field of Scottish jurisdiction. The Lord Lyon King of Arms is, after all, the King of Arms of Scotland.

The Officers of State of Scotland and their current incumbents are:

  1. Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland : The Rt.Hon.Nicola Sturgeon ( First Minister of Scotland )
  2. Keeper of the Privy Seal : vacant position since the death of Gavin Campbell, 1st Marquess of Breadalbane in 1922
  3. Lord Clerk Register : James Mackay, Baron Mackay of Clashfern
  4. Lord Advocate : James Wolffe
  5. Lord Justice Clerk : Leeona Dorrian, Lady Dorrian
  6. Lord Justice General : The Rt Hon. Lord Carloway
  7. Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland : Joseph John Morrow

The Officers of the Crown of Scotland and their current incumbents are:

  1. Great Chamberlain of Scotland (until ca.1707)
  2. Lord High Constable : The Rt Hon. The Earl of Erroll
  3. Earl Marischal (until around 1716)
  4. Lord High Admiral of Scotland (until 1707)
  5. The Knight Marischal (vacant but not abolished)
  6. Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland : Joseph John Morrow (since 2014)


These hereditary court offices were or are also in the Kingdom of Ireland or today Northern Ireland . The Officers of State of Ireland are or were:

  1. Lord Chancellor of Ireland , also Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of Ireland , abolished in 1922 with the establishment of the Irish Free State
  1. Lord High Treasurer of Ireland , in 1817 with the Office of the British Lord High Treasurer merged
  2. Earl Marshal of Ireland , founded by Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex , extinct in 1697
  3. Lord High Constable of Ireland , abolished in 1922
  4. Lord High Steward of Ireland , since 1980 Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, 22nd Earl of Shrewsbury and Waterford, 7th Earl Talbot

Individual evidence

  1. Vice Chairman is the Chancellor of the Exchequer as Second Lord of the Treasury .
  2. David McKie: Lord Callaghan . In: , Guardian Unlimited, March 28, 2005. Retrieved June 10, 2008. "He had held all four of the great offices of state" 
  3. ^ Gary Eason: Callaghan's great education debate . In: BBC News , March 27, 2005. 
  4. ^ New Lord Lyon King of Arms appointed ( Memento April 8, 2014 in the Internet Archive ), The Scottish Government, January 17, 2014.
  5. ^ Nathan Wells: Ross, Sir John, first baronet (1853-1935) . In: Henry Colin Gray Matthew, Brian Harrison (Eds.): Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004, ISBN 0-19-861411-X , , accessed August 24, 2016.