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Lord Great Chamberlain

The Lord Great Chamberlain of England is the sixth of the Great Officers of State, ranking beneath the Lord Privy Seal and above the Lord High Constable. The position is hereditary, and was held by the de Vere Earls of Oxford until 1626, when it passed to Lord Willoughby de Eresby. In 1779, upon the death of the 4th Duke of Ancaster, the office was split among his daughters, who shared it jointly, appointing a deputy to fulfill its functions when necessary, and the office has continued split - among more and more candidates - since that time.

The office of Lord Great Chamberlain is distinct from the non-hereditary office of Lord Chamberlain of the Household, a position in the monarch's household. This office arose, in fact, as a deputy of the Lord Great Chamberlain, to fulfill the latter's duties in the royal household, but now they are quite distinct. The Lord Great Chamberlain has charge over the Palace of Westminster, and especially of the House of Lords, and bears the Sword of State at state openings and closings of Parliament. The Lord Great Chamberlain also has a major part to play in royal coronations, having the right to dress the monarch on coronation day and to serve the monarch water before and after the coronation banquet, and also being involved in investing the monarch with the insignia of rule.

Lord Great Chamberlains since 1562

with the death of the Marquess of Lincolnshire in 1928, his portion of the Lord Great Chamberlainship was split among his five coheiresses, Lady Nunburnholme, Lady Alexandra Palmer, Lady Lewisham, Lady Bury, and Lady Victoria Weld-Forester. List thus presently incomplete.

As regards those who exercised the office, William Legge, a son-in-law of Lord Lincolnshire who was then styled Viscount Lewisham and later succeeded his father as 7th Earl of Dartmouth, exercised the office for the remainder of the reign of King George V.

The 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley exercised the office for the reign of King Edward VIII.

The 2nd Earl of Ancaster exercised the office for the reign of King George VI until resigning it to his son in 1951, and died later that year; Gilbert James Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, 3rd and last Earl of Ancaster, exercised the office for the remainder of the reign of King George VI. On his death in 1983 his co-heirship was inherited by his daughter Nancy Jane Marie Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, Baroness Willoughby de Eresby, who is childless and has two co-heiresses.

The 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley exercised the office again in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II until resigning it to his son in 1966, and died in 1968.

George Hugh Cholmondeley, 6th Marquess of Cholmondeley, exercised the office from 1966 until his death in 1990.

David George Philip Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley, has exercised the office since 1990. Should he die, his three sisters would be co-heiresses to his branch's portion of the office.

For the next reign the office would be exercised by a Lincolnshire heir, and the five twentieths of the heirship represented by Lord Lincolnshire's daughters have split further.