The Poet Laureate is a member of the Royal Household and appointed by Royal Warrant. They receive an annual stipend from the Civil List.
The current Poet Laureate is Carol Ann Duffy who was appointed in May 2009. She is the first female Poet Laureate and will hold the post for a fixed ten-year period. The fixed 10 year tenure began in 1999 with the appointment of Andrew Motion.
The Poet Laureate position was originally conceived for writing court odes to honour events such as the monarch’s birthday.
It was first entitled the Poet Laureate of the Kingdom of England until the Acts of Union 1707, when it became the Poet Laureate of the Kingdom of Great Britain. The current title, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, has been in use since the Acts of Union 1800.
The position was by tradition held for life, with John Dryden in 1688 being the only Poet Laureate to have been dismissed, because of his refusal to swear an oath of allegiance William III.
Upon the death of the Poet Laureate or if the position does become vacant by other means, names of successors are presented to the Prime Mister for the Sovereign’s approval. The Lord Chamberlain will then issue a warrant to the chosen poet and this is announced in the London Gazette.
The London Gazette is the newspaper where official announcements are published and are accepted as being legal since 1665. Once a change of style or title is published, it is official and able to be used immediately.
One would think that Queen Victoria would have appointed the most Poet Laureates (she appointed three). It is actually The Queen, with the most appointments. During her reign, Her Majesty has appointed five Poet Laureates.