The Royal Borough of Kingston is one of 33 London Boroughs (including the City of London) but one of only two Royal Boroughs in the capital (the other being the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea). There are a number of important civic offices in Greater London details of which are set out below:
The Lord Mayor of London
The Lord Mayor of the City of London takes precedence over all London Borough Mayors, except the Mayor of the Borough in which the function is being held. There is no Deputy Lord Mayor. The Lord Mayor of London is styled 'The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of London' and should not be confused with the recently elected Mayor of London who has London-wide responsibilities.
The Lord Mayor of London's role is complimentary to that of the role of the Mayor of London. Although involved in many of the same issues as the Mayor, the Lord Mayor, as head of the Corporation of London, acts as a representative of those who live, work or run business in 'the square mile'.
More about the Lord Mayor of London
The Mayor of London
This is a relatively new position introduced by the Greater London Authority Act in May 2000. The London Mayor is directly elected every four years by the electorate of Greater London as a whole. He is accountable for the 'strategic government of Greater London'. His main responsibilities are transport, economic development, the police, civil defence and fire services, planning, the environment and the coordination of London-wide events.
The Lord Lieutenancy
The Lord Lieutenant of Greater London is the Sovereign's Representative in Greater London (but not the city) and, as such, should be accorded due precedence. The Vice Lord Lieutenant, or a Representative Deputy Lieutenant, should be given the same precedence if acting specifically for the Lord Lieutenant, but not otherwise.
For each London Borough there is a Representative Deputy Lieutenant whose job it is to act for the Lord Lieutenant within the Borough. Except when officially acting for the Lord Lieutenant, a Representative Deputy Lieutenant has no precedence by virtue of office, but should be given suitable recognition. Kingston's Deputy Lieutenant is currently Colonel Geoffrey Godbold, OBE, TD, DL.
The High Sheriff (The Shrievalty)
The High Sheriff of Greater London is appointed annually and is responsible for the administration of justice within Greater London (other than the City). The High Sheriff is accorded precedence immediately after the Lord Lieutenant.
The High Sheriff should be invited to major civic functions, particularly any that are attended by the Sovereign or a Member of the Royal Family.
Mayoral Precedence in London
Although it is not possible to be absolutely prescriptive in these matters, the following is a typical order of precedence in respect of attendance at a function in Greater London:
- The Sovereign (or the Sovereign's representative - e.g. the Lord Lieutenant).
- The Mayor of the Borough in which the function is held.
- A Chairman of a County Council (if present)
- The Lord Mayor of Westminster
- A Lord Mayor of a City Council (if present)
- The Mayor's of the Royal Boroughs of Kingston upon Thames and Kensington and Chelsea.
- Other Mayors, in alphabetical order.
- Mayors/Chairman of any District Councils who may be present
- Other Civic Personalities in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
In addition to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, there are a number of other civic office holders in the Royal Borough, details of which follow:
The Mayor's Chaplain(s)
The Mayor's Chaplain, appointed by the Mayor at the Annual Council Meeting, is the spiritual advisor to the Mayor and may be invited to attend appropriate civic functions. The duties of this honorary office include saying prayers at the beginning of Council meetings. More than one chaplain may be appointed at any one time.
The 'Ancient' Offices of Honorary Recorder and High Steward
The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames is the only Borough possessing the privilege of appointing its own High Steward and Recorder. First mention of the office of Recorder is made in the Royal Charter granted to the town by King James I in 1603. The Recorder was a member of the Court of Assembly (which used to carry out much of the work now undertaken by the Council) and presided over the local courts. Since the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 the office has become an honorary one.
Many eminent members of the legal profession have held the office of Recorder for the Royal Borough including Sir Douglas Hogg and Sir Thomas Inskip, both of whom became Lord High Chancellor, Sir Donald Somervell, who retired from office on appointment as Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Hartley Shawcross, Sir Elwyn Jones and Lord Rawlinson. Upon a vacancy arising in the office it has been traditional for it to be filled by the Attorney General of the day.
The title of High Steward is also an honorary one. Generally the position was held by a person of high rank and influence at Court. Along with the Recorder, the High Steward was also a Member of the Court of Assembly. Perhaps the most eminent occupant of the office of High Steward of the Royal Borough was Lord Howard of Effingham, who was Lord High Admiral and Commander in Chief of the forces which defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588.
The Office of Honorary Recorder is currently vacant. The High Steward is Mr David Jacobs, CBE.
The Royal Borough may confer the status of Honorary Freeman on a person of distinction who, in the opinion of the Council, has rendered eminent services to the Royal Borough. Such status may only be conferred by a two-thirds majority of the Council at a special meeting convened for the purpose.
A list of those persons on whom the status of Honorary Freeman has been conferred is shown on one of the boards in the Queen Anne Suite. Included on that list are the Colonel, Officers, Warrant Officers, NCO's and men of the East Surrey Regiment on whom Freedom of the Borough was conferred in 1944. In exercise of that honour the Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment has the right to parade through the streets of the Borough, with fixed bayonets every four years. In March 2009 the Freedom of the Borough was also conferred on the 256 (City of London) Field Hospital (Volunteers) and a Freedom Parade was held on Saturday 24 July 2010.
(photographs taken at Freedom Parade outside Guildhall on 24th July 2010)
The Royal Borough may also confer the status of Honorary Alderman on a person who has rendered eminent service as a past member of the Council but who is no longer a Member. Once again, such status may only be conferred by a two-third majority of the Council at a special meeting convened for the purpose. The names of Honorary Alderman appear on the board in the Council Chamber.
The Tipstaff is a uniformed officer who takes part in civic processions wither preceding the officers of the Council when the Mayor comes last in the procession, or following the officers when the procession is in reverse order. The role is often undertaken by the Royal Borough's Honorary Town Crier. but the position is currently vacant.