Since medieval times, the Lord Steward has been one of the three “Great Officers of the Household.”
Until 1782, the office was one of great political significance and held Cabinet rank. After 1924, the office would change over as the government changed.
The Lord Steward was at one time head of his own department of the Household that was in charge of the ‘below stairs’ officers and staff through the Board of Green Cloth. Much of the work was assigned to the Lord Stewards underlings, usually the Master of the Household.
Reorganisation took place in the 1920s as reforms were made and the Lord Steward became the nominal head of the Master of the Household Department.
The Board of Green Cloth was a board of officials belonging to the Royal Household of England and Great Britain. It derived its name from the cloth of green baize that covered the table at which its members assembled.
It reviewed the accounts of the Royal Household and planned royal travel. It also sat as a court upon transgressions committed within the boundary of the palace. While continued on to the early 21st century, its power was really limited to liquor, betting and gaming licences for properties located within the areas attributed to or administrated by the Royal palaces.
In 2004, The Board of Green Cloth ceased to exist as the reforms created by the Licensing Act of 2003 went into effect.
The Lord Steward attends ceremonial events at Buckingham Palace such as State Visits and State Banquets. His role during the Banquets is to present guests to The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and their visitors.
The Lord Steward is always a peer. The present Lord Steward is James Hubert Ramsay, 17th Earl of Dalhousie.
In 2009 The Earl was appointed, in succession to the Duke of Abercorn, as Lord Steward of Her Majesty’s Household.
He is the son of the 16th Earl of Dalhousie and Margaret Elizabeth Mary Stirling. In 1999, Dalhousie inherited his title upon the death of his father.
One of the more famous Lord Stewards was Thomas Percy, 1st Earl of Worcester. The second Lord Steward, he was an English medieval nobleman. He is best known, along with his brother, Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland and nephew, Henry Percy, also known as ‘Harry Hotspur’, for taking part in Henry IV’s ousting of Richard II. Later the trio would head their own rebellion against King Henry IV.
Percy was captured at the Battle of Shrewsbury and publicly beheaded in on 23 July 1403 in Shrewsbury.