A royal household or imperial household is the residence and administrative headquarters in ancient and post-classical monarchies, and papal household for popes, and formed the basis for the general government of the country as well as providing for the needs of the sovereign and their relations. It was the core of the royal court, though this included many courtiers who were not directly employed by the monarch as part of the household.
There were often large numbers of employees in the household, strictly differentiated by rank, from nobles with highly sought-after positions that gave close access to the monarch, to all the usual of servants such as cooks, footmen, and maids. The households typically included military forces providing security. Specialists such as artists, clock-makers and poets might be given a place in the household, often by appointing them as valet de chambre or the local equivalent.
Among many of these households there are certain great offices which have become, in course of time, merely hereditary. In most cases, as the name of the office would suggest, they were held by those who discharged personal functions about the sovereign. Gradually, in ways or for reasons which might vary in each individual case, the office alone survived, the duties either ceasing to be necessary or being transferred to officers of less exalted station.
The royal households of such of European monarchies have a continuous history since medieval times.
An almoner is a chaplain or church officer who originally was in charge of distributing money to the deserving poor. The title almoner has to some extent fallen out of use in English, but its equivalents in other languages are often used for many pastoral functions exercised by chaplains or pastors. The word derives from the Ancient Greek: ἐλεημοσύνη eleēmosynē (alms), via the popular Latin almosinarius.Astronomer Royal
Astronomer Royal is a senior post in the Royal Households of the United Kingdom. There are two officers, the senior being the Astronomer Royal dating from 22 June 1675; the second is the Astronomer Royal for Scotland dating from 1834.
The post was created by King Charles II in 1675, at the same time as he founded the Royal Observatory Greenwich. He appointed John Flamsteed, instructing him "forthwith to apply himself with the most exact care and diligence to the rectifying the tables of the motions of the heavens, and the places of the fixed stars, so as to find out the so-much desired longitude of places, for the perfecting the art of navigation."The Astronomer Royal was director of the Royal Observatory Greenwich from the establishment of the post in 1675 until 1972. The Astronomer Royal became an honorary title in 1972 without executive responsibilities and a separate post of Director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory was created to manage the institution.The Astronomer Royal today receives a stipend of 100 GBP per year and is a member of the Royal Household, under the general authority of the Lord Chamberlain. After the separation of the two offices, the position of Astronomer Royal has been largely honorary, though he remains available to advise the Sovereign on astronomical and related scientific matters, and the office is of great prestige.There was also formerly a Royal Astronomer of Ireland.British royal family
The British royal family comprises Queen Elizabeth II and her close relations. There is no strict legal or formal definition of who is or is not a member of the British royal family.
Those who at the time are entitled to the style His or Her Royal Highness (HRH), and any styled His or Her Majesty (HM), are normally considered members, including those so styled before the beginning of the current monarch's reign. By this criterion, a list of the current royal family will usually include the monarch, the children and male-line grandchildren of the monarch and previous monarchs, the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, and all of their current or widowed spouses.
Some members of the royal family have official residences named as the places from which announcements are made in the Court Circular about official engagements they have carried out. The state duties and staff of some members of the royal family are funded from a parliamentary annuity, the amount of which is fully refunded by the Queen to the Treasury.Since 1917, when King George V changed the name of the royal house from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, members of the royal family have belonged, either by birth or by marriage, to the House of Windsor. Senior titled members of the royal family do not usually use a surname, although since 1960 Mountbatten-Windsor, incorporating Prince Philip's adopted surname of Mountbatten, has been prescribed as a surname for Elizabeth II's direct descendants who do not have royal styles and titles, and it has sometimes been used when required for those who do have such titles. The royal family are regarded as British cultural icons, with young adults from abroad naming the family among a group of people that they most associated with UK culture.Comptroller of the Household
The Comptroller of the Household is an ancient position in the British royal household, nominally the second-ranking member of the Lord Steward's department after the Treasurer of the Household. The Comptroller was an ex officio member of the Board of Green Cloth, until that body was abolished in the reform of the local government licensing in 2004. In recent times, a senior government whip has invariably occupied the office. On state occasions the Comptroller (in common with certain other senior officers of the Household) carries a white staff of office, as often seen in portraits.Dean of the Chapel Royal
The Dean of the Chapel Royal, in any kingdom, can be the title of an official charged with oversight of that kingdom's chapel royal, the ecclesiastical establishment which is part of the royal household and ministers to it.Equerry
An equerry (; from French écurie 'stable', and related to écuyer 'squire') is an officer of honour. Historically, it was a senior attendant with responsibilities for the horses of a person of rank. In contemporary use, it is a personal attendant, usually upon a sovereign, a member of a royal family, or a national representative. The role is equivalent to an aide-de-camp, but the term is now prevalent only in the Commonwealth of Nations.Gentleman Usher
Gentleman Usher is a title for some officers of the Royal Household of the United Kingdom. See List of Gentlemen Ushers for a list of office-holders.In ordinary
"In ordinary" is an English phrase. In naval matters, vessels "in ordinary" (from the 17th century) are those out of service for repair or maintenance, a meaning coming over time to cover a reserve fleet or "mothballed" ships.Lord-in-waiting
Lords-in-Waiting (female: Baronesses-in-Waiting) are peers who hold office in the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. In the official Court Circular they are styled 'Lord in Waiting' or 'Baroness in Waiting' (i.e. without hyphenation).
There are two kinds of Lord in Waiting: political appointees by the government of the day who serve as junior government whips in the House of Lords (the senior whips have the positions of Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms and Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard); and non-political appointments by the monarch (who, if they have a seat in the House of Lords, sit as crossbenchers). Baronesses and Lords in Waiting (whether political or non-political) may be called upon periodically to represent the Sovereign; for example, one of their number is regularly called upon to greet visiting Heads of State on arrival at an airport at the start of a State or official visit, and they may then play a role in accompanying them for the duration of their stay. (For instance, on 3 June 2019 the Lord in Waiting Viscount Brookeborough was in attendance at Stansted Airport to welcome the President of the United States and Mrs Trump on behalf of the Queen; he and Viscountess Brookeborough then remained 'specially attached' to the President and Mrs Trump for the duration of their visit.) They are also occasionally in attendance on other State or royal occasions. 'Extra' Lords in Waiting may also be appointed, supernumerary to the regular appointees, who fulfil a similar role; for example, the Baroness Rawlings, whose appointment as a government whip (and Baroness in Waiting) ceased in 2012, has since then served as an Extra Baroness in Waiting, and has continued to represent The Queen on certain occasions (for example on 27 February 2019 she was present at RAF Northolt to welcome the King and Queen of Jordan, while at the same time another Baroness in Waiting, Baroness Manzoor, was present at Heathrow Airport to welcome the President of the Republic of Slovenia).In addition, the honour of serving as a Permanent Lord in Waiting is occasionally bestowed on very senior courtiers following their retirement. A Permanent Lord in Waiting may also represent the Sovereign, as often happens at funerals or memorial services for former courtiers.Lord Chamberlain
The Lord Chamberlain or Lord Chamberlain of the Household is the most senior officer of the Royal Household of the United Kingdom, supervising the departments which support and provide advice to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom while also acting as the main channel of communication between the Sovereign and the House of Lords. The office organises all ceremonial activity such as garden parties, state visits, royal weddings, and the State Opening of Parliament. They also handle the Royal Mews and Royal Travel, as well as the ceremony around the awarding of honours.
For over 230 years, the Lord Chamberlain position had the power to decide which plays would be granted a licence for performance, from 1737 to 1968, which meant that the Lord Chamberlain had the capacity to censor theatre at his pleasure.The Lord Chamberlain is always sworn of the Privy Council, is usually a peer and before 1782 the post was of Cabinet rank. The position was a political one until 1924. The office dates from the Middle Ages when the King's Chamberlain often acted as the King's spokesman in Council and Parliament.The current Lord Chamberlain is The Earl Peel, who has been in office since 16 October 2006.Lord High Steward of Scotland
The title of High Steward or Great Steward is that of an officer who controls the domestic affairs of the royal household. David I of Scotland gave the title in the 12th century to Walter fitz Alan, a French baron of Breton origin whose descendants adopted Steward as a surname to become the House of Stewart/Stuart. In 1371, the last High Steward inherited the throne, and thereafter the title of High Steward of Scotland has been held as a subsidiary title to that of Duke of Rothesay and Baron of Renfrew, held by the heir-apparent to the crown. Thus, currently, The Prince of Wales is High Steward of Scotland, sometimes known as the Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.Lord Steward
The Lord Steward or Lord Steward of the Household, in England, is an important official of the Royal Household. He is always a peer. Until 1924, he was always a member of the Government. Until 1782, the office was one of considerable political importance and carried Cabinet rank.
The Lord Steward receives his appointment from the Sovereign in person and bears a white staff as the emblem and warrant of his authority. He is the first dignitary of the court. In the House of Lords Precedence Act 1539, an Act of Parliament for placing of the lords, he is described as the grand master or lord steward of the king's most honourable household. He presided at the Board of Green Cloth, until the Board of Green Cloth disappeared in the reform of local government licensing in 2004, brought about by the Licensing Act 2003 (section 195). In his department are the Treasurer of the Household and Comptroller of the Household, who rank next to him. These officials were usually peers or the sons of peers and Privy Councillors. They also sat at the Board of Green Cloth, carry white staves, and belong to the ministry. The offices are now held by Government whips in the House of Commons. The duties which in theory belong to the Lord Steward, Treasurer and Comptroller of the Household are in practice performed by the Master of the Household, who is a permanent officer and resides in the palace. However, by the Coroners Act 1988, the Lord Steward still appoints the Coroner of the Queen's Household.The Master of the Household is a white-staff officer and was a member of the Board of Green Cloth but not of the ministry, and among other things he presided at the daily dinners of the suite in waiting on the sovereign. He is not named in the Black Book of Edward IV or in the Statutes of Henry VIII and is entered as master of the household and clerk of the green cloth in the Household Book of Queen Elizabeth. But he has superseded the lord steward of the household, as the lord steward of the household at one time superseded the Lord High Steward of England.
In the Lord Steward's department were the officials of the Board of Green Cloth, the Coroner ("coroner of the verge", although now abolished, but it has yet to take place), and Paymaster of the Household, and the officers of the Royal Almonry. Other offices in the department were those of the Cofferer of the Household, the Treasurer of the Chamber, and the Paymaster of Pensions, but these, with six clerks of the Board of Green Cloth, were abolished in 1782.
The Lord Steward had formerly three courts besides the Board of Green Cloth under him—the Lord Steward's Court, superseded in 1541 by the Marshalsea Court, and the Palace Court.
The Lord Steward or his deputies formerly administered the oaths to the members of the House of Commons. In certain cases (messages from the sovereign under the sign-manual) the lords with white staves are the proper persons to bear communications between the Sovereign and the Houses of Parliament.Master of the Horse
The Master of the Horse was (and in some cases, still is) a position of varying importance in several European nations.Master of the Household
The Master of the Household is the operational head (see Chief operating officer) of the "below stairs" elements of the Royal Households of the United Kingdom. The role has charge of the domestic staff, from the Royal Kitchens, the pages and footmen, to the housekeeper and their staff.
Since 2004 the Office of the Prince of Wales has included a Master of the Household.Ministry of the Imperial Household
The Ministry of the Imperial Household (宮内省, Kunai-shō) was a division of the eighth century Japanese government of the Imperial Court in Kyoto, instituted in the Asuka period and formalized during the Heian period. The Ministry was reorganized in the Meiji period and existed until 1947, before being replaced by the Imperial Household Agency.Royal Households of the United Kingdom
The Royal Households of the United Kingdom are the collective departments which support members of the British royal family. Many members of the Royal Family who undertake public duties have separate households. They vary considerably in size, from the large Royal Household which supports the Sovereign to the household of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, with fewer than ten members. The lesser households are funded from the Civil List annuities, paid to their respective royal employers for their public duties, and all reimbursed to HM Treasury by the Queen.
In addition to the royal officials and support staff, the Sovereign's own household incorporates representatives of other estates of the Realm, including the Government, the Military, and the Church. Government whips, defence chiefs, several clerics, scientists, musicians, poets, and artists hold honorary positions within the Royal Household. In this way, the Royal Household may be seen as having a symbolic, as well as a practical, function: exemplifying the Monarchy's close relationship with other parts of the Constitution and of national life.Serjeant-at-arms
A serjeant-at-arms, or sergeant-at-arms is an officer appointed by a deliberative body, usually a legislature, to keep order during its meetings. The word "serjeant" is derived from the Latin serviens, which means "servant". Historically, serjeants-at-arms were armed men retained by English lords and monarchs, and the ceremonial maces with which they are associated were in origin a type of weapon. ("Sergeant" is a modern UK and North American variant spelling.)Treasurer of the Household
The Treasurer of the Household is a member of the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. The position is usually held by one of the government deputy Chief Whips in the House of Commons. The Treasurer was a member of the Board of Green Cloth, until the Board of Green Cloth disappeared in the reform of local government licensing in 2004, brought about by the Licensing Act 2003 (section 195).
The position had its origin in the office of Keeper of the Wardrobe of the Household and was ranked second after the Lord Steward. On occasion (e.g. 1488–1503) the office was vacant for a considerable period and its duties undertaken by the Cofferer. The office was often staffed by the promotion of the Comptroller and was normally held by a commoner (except in 1603–1618 and 1641–1645 when it was occupied by peers). The Treasurer was automatically a member of the privy council. The role is currently vacant and was most recently held by Christopher Pincher who when he left this role was subsequently appointed Minister of State for Europe and the Americas.Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
The Vice-Chamberlain of the Household is a member of the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. The office-holder is usually a junior government whip in the British House of Commons ranking third or fourth after the Chief Whip and the Deputy Chief Whip. He or she is the Deputy to the Lord Chamberlain of the Household. The Vice-Chamberlain's main roles are to compile a daily private report to the Sovereign on proceedings in the House of Commons and to relay addresses from the Commons to the Sovereign and back. As a member of the Royal Household, the Vice-Chamberlain accompanies the Sovereign and Royal Household at certain diplomatic and social events, particularly the annual garden party at Buckingham Palace. When the Sovereign goes in procession to Westminster for the State Opening of Parliament, the Vice-Chamberlain stays and is "held captive" at Buckingham Palace. This custom began with the Restoration (1660), because of the previous Vice-Chamberlain's role in the beheading of Charles I.Notable holders of the office include Sir George Carteret, Lord Hervey, the Earl of Harrington, the Earl Spencer, Michael Stewart and Bernard Weatherill.