Kevin Sharp, Clerk to the West Yorkshire Lieutenancy, came at the request of our own Deputy Lieutenant Mike Fox, to enlighten us on the role of this venerable institution.
A quick internet research reveals that the system of lieutenancies was started by Henry VIII to lead local militias in the event of Scottish or French invasion, and thereafter to suppress any commotions, rebellions or unlawful assemblies. As described by Kevin, however, the modern day lieutenancy is a wholly benevolent institution escorting the Queen and other visiting royalty to West Yorkshire, presiding over citizenship awards and identifying worthy recipients of honours, Royal Garden Party invitations, and congratulatory cards on milestone birthdays and anniversaries.
There is one Lord Lieutenant, who in keeping with tradition is expected to remain in post until the age of 75. There is a Vice Lord Lieutenant and some 62 Deputy Lord Lieutenants. All perform this public service without remuneration.
The major part of Kevin’s talk to us was an affectionate portrait of the Royal family, informed by close personal contact over many years. His tribute to their good humour and dedication to good causes was a refreshing antidote to the usual media gossip – although we did get some gossip too [My favourite: Kevin’s prediction that Prince Andrew will remarry Sarah Ferguson after the demise of the Duke of Edinburgh!]