Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

What is the Lieutenancy?

Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenants are the representatives of the Crown for each county in the United Kingdom. Men or women of all backgrounds, they are appointed by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Historically the Lord-Lieutenants were originally appointed in Henry VIII's reign to take over the military duties of the Sheriff and control the military forces of the Crown. In 1662 they were given entire control of the militia, but the Forces Act of 1871 transferred this function back to the Crown. Today it is a largely ceremonial position, usually awarded to a retired notable, military officer, nobleman or noblewoman, or business person in the county.

The modern responsibilities of Lord-Lieutenants include:

  • Local representative of Her Majesty the Queen. He or she represents the Queen at functions and ceremonies in the county.
  • Responsible for arranging all visits by members of the Royal family, escorting the Royal visitor around the different locations in the county.
  • Presenting medals and awards on behalf of the Sovereign, decorations (where the recipient is unable to attend an Investiture), and advising on Honours nominations.
  • Submitting names of local nominations to Buckingham Palace for Garden Parties.
  • Participating in civic, voluntary and social activities within the lieutenancy.
  • Liaising with local units of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army, Royal Air Force and their associated cadet forces.

Lord-Lieutenants are also responsible for ensuring that The Queen's Private Office is kept informed about local issues relating to their area, particularly when a Royal visit is being planned.

Male Lord-Lieutenants wear a military-style navy blue uniform with scarlet stripes on the trousers and a scarlet band round the peaked cap. Women are still known as 'Lord'-Lieutenants, and a wear a brooch to indicate their office.

The lord-lieutenant is supported by a Vice Lord-Lieutenant and Deputy Lieutenants that he or she appoints. The Vice Lord-Lieutenant takes over when the Lord-Lieutenant is abroad, ill, or otherwise incapacitated. The Lord-Lieutenant appoints Deputy Lieutenants, the number of which appointed depends on the county's population.

As the sovereign's representative in his or her county, the Lord-Lieutenant remains non-political and does not hold office in any political party.

Lord-Lieutenants retire at the age of seventy-five.

The Association of Lord-Lieutenants celebrated its centenary in July 2008.