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The Queen's former scribe discusses Letters Patent

<![CDATA[Last January I stepped down from my position as a scribe and illuminator to Her Majesty the Queen to focus completely on my fine art. Before I close that particular portfolio I thought it would be a good idea to talk a little about the work I did for those here, who may not be familiar with this particular art associated with the Crown.
Illuminated Royal 'E' from a Letters Patent to a Justice of the Supreme Court.
There has been a long tradition of writing and illuminating court documents and letters, thankfully this continues. Although less so today some are still produced completely by hand, for example those appointments to people of great office such as High Court Judges, Officers of Arms etc., and especially titles given to members of the Royal Family.  All get a hand written, painted and illuminated vellum Letters Patent issued under the Great Seal of the Realm.
The Great Seal itself is kept at the House of Lords and is colour coded for particular requirements so those elevated to the peerage get green, close members of the Royal Family get a blue seal and red is given to bishops and most other patents. The attachment of the Great Seal means that the monarch does not have to sign every document.
The work is undertaken by professional artists who have highly specialized skills in heraldic painting, calligraphy and traditional manuscript illumination and in the preparation of calf skin vellum, gold leaf and writing with goose quills. Needless to say the art work must always be of the highest calibre. There are very few who can actually attain the required standard in all three artistic disciplines.

Andrew Stewart Jamieson painting The Queen's illuminated initial on a Letters Patent.

Andrew Stewart Jamieson painting The Queen’s illuminated initial on a Letters Patent.

Many of the documents produced are private and so photographs of them are not usually permitted. Some are made public such as those granting Chelmsford its City status and those giving the City of Armagh its right to appoint a Lord Mayor, both of which I produced.  I also painted several appointments of Justices to the Supreme Court which all carried in addition to Her Majesty’s emblems that of the Court.
My finest work by far was the Letters Patent granting Prince William his three titles. In fact this was my first commission on being invited to become a ‘Queen’s Scribe’ and so, far from being a gentle introduction I had to jump in at the deep end and apply everything I had learnt over almost three decades as a professional artist. Pulling out all of the stops were a basic requirement in view of the fact that Her Majesty was going to sign it. Later my wife and I were invited to the Queen’s garden party as a thank you.
I have included two illuminated E’s and they are both variations on a theme following a long tradition of using the initial letter of the monarch embellished with royal emblems. It was work that I thoroughly enjoyed but perhaps now that I have achieved my life long goal of becoming a scribe and illuminator I simply need a new challenge.  When one climbs a mountain and looks back at not only all the obstacles he survived but knowledge gained along the way he looks up at the next peak with renewed confidence and a strong desire to continue the adventure.
The featured photo shows an Illuminated Initial with the full Royal Arms from the Letters Patent to the City of Chelmsford.
To find out more about Andrew’s work visit
With special thanks to Andrew Stewart Jamieson for the photos.]]>


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