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State & Ceremonial

The Queen is looking for a new Lord Lyon – could you do it?

The office of Lord Lyon King of Arms in Scotland is to fall vacant in December when the present office holder, Mr David Sellar steps down after 5 years of service.


The Lord Lyon King of Arms is Scotland’s ‘chief of heraldry’ and also in charge of state ceremonial events in Scotland. Applications, which are being accepted publicly for the office, close on 31st October.

Under the Lord Lyon King of Arms Act 1867, the First Minister of Scotland makes a recommendation to Her Majesty The Queen for the candidate and that candidate is then typically appointed Lord Lyon.

Whilst the Lord Lyon is the only King of Arms in Scotland, the rest of the United Kingdom also has 3 other Kings of Arms who are: Garter Principal King of Arms, Clarenceux King of Arms and Norroy and Ulster King of Arms.

The Kings of Arms (with the exception of the Lord Lyon, who is in charge of heraldry in Scotland) are traditionally the only authority which are able to grant coats of arms in England – the English Kings of Arms typically work from the College of Arms and are involved in he designing, creation and issuing of arms and also genealogical research – the Lord Lyon works from his own court, called the Court of the Lord Lyon.

Unlike their English contemporaries the King of Arms in Scotland is paid a lot more than the £49.07 which is given to the most senior English one, Garter King of Arms. The post of Lord Lyon is part time – three days a week, with a salary range of £56,000 – £78,500 ‘pro rata’.

Often seen resplendent in their famous tabards, the Kings of Arms are traditionally in charge of heraldry in the United Kingdom. Unlike any of the other Kings of Arms though, the Lord Lyon also has his own judicial court with powers to bring criminal charges against people in Scotland for misuse of heraldic devices, and the power to issue fines and direct removal of any coats of arms. The Lord Lyon’s court is fully integrated into the Scottish legal system, including having a dedicated prosecutor, known in Scotland as a Procurator Fiscal.

The Lord Lyon, along with the other Kings of Arms, traditionally attends the Coronation of the British Monarch too.

The post on the Scottish Courts website says, “Applications to fill this Office must be legally qualified. The other skills, knowledge and characteristics expected of the office holder are set out in information for which interested parties should make application.”

It goes on to say, “an independent panel will consider the applications and make recommendations to the First Minister.”

photo credit: UK Parliament via photopin cc

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