This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Lord Lieutenant, United Kingdom

Last modified: 2010-05-28 by rob raeside
Keywords: lord lieutenant | sword | union jack |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[Lord Lieutenant's flag] image by Martin Grieve, 4 September 2006

See also:

About the Flag

The title Lord-Lieutenant is given to the British monarch's personal representatives around the United Kingdom. Usually some retired local notable, a senior army officer, peer or business person is given the honorary post. Lord-Lieutenants are the monarch's representatives in their lieutenancy. It is their foremost duty to uphold the dignity of the Crown, and in so doing they seeks to promote a spirit of co-operation and good atmosphere by the time they give to voluntary and benevolent organisations and by the interest they take in the business and social life of their counties.

The flag and more about modern use of the title here: The flag consists of the Union Jack, with a sword surmounted by a crown at the center.
Valentin Poposki, 3 September 2006

The introduction of a distinctive flag for Lord-Lieutenants was the result of the declaration that the Union Jack, the flag usually flown by Lord-Lieutenants, could be hoisted by any British subject. Originally the person appointed to be the King's Lieutenant in each county was a Lord in his own right, and the office acquired the title Lord-Lieutenant. Their principal responsibility was raising local defence forces, but in 1906 this was about to be changed by the Territorial and Reserve Forces Bill which would associate county volunteers with the corresponding county regiment of the regular army, and it was suggested that Lord-Lieutenants should have a distinctive flag instead of the Union Jack. The Bill was enacted in 1907 and the War Office circulated a letter to ninety-five Lord-Lieutenants asking for their views on the proposed flag. Forty-one did not reply, twenty who did reply, had no particular view on the matter, sixteen were in favour of retaining the Union Jack, and just five supported the idea of a distinctive flag. The War Office told the Home Office that as the idea had not found general favour the Army Council would take no further action on the matter. However attitudes changed after the statement by the Earl of Crewe in the House of Lords on 14th July 1908 that the Union Flag was the national flag and could be hoisted by any British subject.

Sixty-one Lord-Lieutenants attended a meeting of the Association of County Lieutenants on 22 February 1910 and unanimously passed a Resolution, "That whereas the Union Flag has recently been declared by authority to be the national one, and therefore available to be hoisted by any British subject, His Majesty should be petitioned to grant a distinctive flag for the exclusive use of His Majesty's Lieutenants of Counties." The Duke of Bedford sent the Petition to Winston Churchill, the Home Secretary, for presentation to His Majesty. The flag they proposed was a Red Ensign charged in the fly with a sword and scabbard crossed in saltire, surmounted by an Imperial Crown. The War Office was again consulted and replied that it was not directly concerned with the style or dignity of County Lieutenants with whom it had official dealings only in their capacity as Presidents of Territorial Force Associations, and in the appointment of Deputy Lieutenants (who dealt with Territorial Forces if the Lord-Lieutenant had no military experience). It was pointed out that the thirty-eight Lieutenants of Irish counties, with whom the War Office had no dealings at all, since they were appointed by the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, did not appear to have been represented at the Duke of Bedford's meeting. The War Office did not consider that a distinctive flag was necessary. However a distinctive flag in the form of a Union Jack with a crown above a horizontal gold sword, one third the length of the flag, was approved by King George V on 8 December 1910.

February 1911. The Home Office assured the Duke of Bedford that the flag could be used afloat and would appear in the Admiralty Flag Book.
January 1912. Garter ruled that the flag should be flown only in a Lord-Lieutenant's own county.
February 1923. There was no objection to the flag being flown over the residence of a Lord-Lieutenant in Northern Ireland.
September 1934. The Lord-Lieutenants of the County Borough of Belfast and the City of Londonderry asked if they could fly their flags at their residences which were outside their area of authority. This was deemed permissible subject to the approval of the Lord-Lieutenant of the county in which they resided.
November 1934. At least one Scottish Lord-Lieutenant had advice from "a certain quarter" that he should display the lion rampant and not the special flag approved by His Majesty.

National Archives (PRO) HO 45/15534, WO 32/12230, WO 32/12231, WO 32/12232, WO 32/12233, WO 32/12234.
David Prothero, 12 September 2006