Jump to content

Hereditary Grand Marshall of England

Recommended Posts



This is the personal Staff of Office carried by the Duke of Norfolk - Heriditary Grand Marshall

of England - at the 1863 wedding of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward 7th) and Princess

Alexandra of Denmark. This was held at Westminster Abbey.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With English History going back over such a long period , there are a number of heriditary posts which

stay with the same Family and inherited by the eldest son. I will try , over coming months, to cover

the background of these positions. They are known as the Great Officers of State and number 9 in


The Duke of Norfolk is the senior Dukedom and is also the senior Earldom. The Dukedom was

created by King Richard 3rd (he of the ' where is that damn horse ! ) in 1483. The Dukes are the

Direct Descendents of King Edward 1st.. The original Earldom was created in 1300. These titles

are in the Peerage of England - which is why I haven't used the term Britain.


This is the Coronet for a Duke. Usually made of gilt silver - gold would be too heavy.

This is Arundel Castle in Sussex - the ancestral home of the Dukes of Norfolk

Link to comment
Share on other sites


These are the arms for the Dukes of Norfolk. The simple crossed Staves represent the Hereditary



Court Dress - which is still worn on Formal occasions, such as the Opening of Parliament. He is

carrying a staff of office - of a different style to the one shown here. This has the Crown in Gilt at

the top. The one I show is the one actually carried - it is not so cumbersome.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One other interesting point concerning this Family, is that they are Catholics and have maintained their

Faith from the time of the Reformation. This was when King Henry 8th abolished the Catholic Church with-in England and Wales and set-up the Church of England as the Established Church - with the reigning Monarch as it's Head. There was persecution of the Catholics at that time and it was not until the 1828 Emancipation Act was passed that gave them Freedom of Worship. Following this, the

Dukes of Norfolk took up their position as the Lay Leaders of the Catholic Church in Great Britain.

Like most of the ancestral great families they had plenty of 'skeletons in the closet' and they lost the title

and at least, one his life, for plotting against the King. The title was restored due to the power they could

control. I think the one executed was Thomas Howard - I think by Queen Elizabeth 1st.


There are 24 Dukedoms remaining in Great Britain - some very wealthy, with enormous areas of

land acquired during their past. A few have the title - but no money to maintain the style they

would like to have. There is a simple reason for this - under the Law of Primo-geniture, the eldest

male son - or, in his absence, a Daughter (but not always) had to inherit. However, if it was a

distant relative who inherited the title - or, if the son was a 'deadbeat' - then he could be dis-inherited

from the estate. This has happened several times in the recent past - drug addiction can strike


For interest the inherited titles of Britain - in the order of their precedence is -

Dukes ; Marquis ; Earl ; Viscount , Baron ; Baronet.

Dukes are addressed as 'Your Grace' - everone else as 'My Lord'


The Monarch has always reserved some Titles for Members of the Royal Family.

These can include - Edinburgh ; York ; Cambridge ; Gloucester ; Kent ; and for the HRH The Prince

of Wales, he has the additional Dukedoms of Cornwall and of Rothesay.

Out of interest the title Duke is from the Latin - DUX - or, Leader.

Heir to Throne

Son of Sovereign

Grandson of Sovereign

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This young man is Queen Victoria's eldest son - HRH Prince Edward - Prince of Wales. This

was taken as an official photo prior to his wedding in 1863. Hard to think that by the time he inherited the Kingdom in 1901 when His Mother died, that he had become a diissolute, overweight old man -

whose main hobby was having mistresses. He was never allowed any duties - or, given any help

in occupying his time - a lesson to all those who think work is for others.

He married Princess Alexandra of Denmark - the eldest daughter of King Christian 9th. She was

a kind and considerate person and highly regarded by the public.

The Duke of Norfolk in his capacity as Earl Marshall would have been in charge of the entire

ceremony - to help him would have been selected Gentlemen Ushers. They wore Court Dress

and carried a gold and red staff to show their position.

These are staffs for the Ushers at King Edward's Coronation in 1902 and for King George 6th in

1937. The paintwork is a lacquer - and you can see that it splits with age.


The top staff is for the 1902 Coronation


Usher's Staff for 1937 Coronation

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Astonishignly simple staff, when you compare it to some of the jewell encrusted silver or gold jobs that other people had.

A Canadian VC winner, Smokey Smith, once paraded wearing only the VC on his tunic and when questioned about it responded that "When you've got this f***er, they know you got all the rest!" Perhaps the Grand Marshall doesn't feel the need to advertise his eminence in his choice of wands! :whistle:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are almost certainly a number of other Staffs of office in existance - for State Occasions more elaborately

decorated and with gilt Crowns. This was the one commissioned for this particular ceremony and may have

been changed on the day for one of the others - there seems to be no record. I did have paperwork on this

one saying when he carried-it. I had totally forgotten that I had it in it's mounting case - for years it has stood in

my main hall on a display unit. The case is contempory in date - the glass is of the old small bubble type - long

since improved. Mervyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...