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Attendance at civic and social events

If you wish to invite the Lord-Lieutenant to attend your event, in the first instance please contact the Lieutenancy office. Please do not contact the Lord-Lieutenant directly or send correspondence to her home. All communications must be made through the Lieutenancy office.

If the Lord-Lieutenant is unable to attend your event, then every effort will be made to find a Deputy Lieutenant to represent her, if appropriate.

Guidance for organisers of events attended by the Lord-Lieutenant

This guidance has been prepared as a result of frequent enquiries from the organisers of events attended by the Lord-Lieutenant. There is no standard procedure to be followed on such occasions because there are so many variables between events, venues, etc. The following guidance needs to be considered with this in mind, and advice sought from the Lieutenancy Office if necessary.

In connection with events there may be printing or inscriptions to be considered. The title of the Lord-Lieutenant's  office can vary dependent upon the circumstances in which it is being used. In full it is Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, but this could become H.M. Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, or Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex and the advice of the Lieutenancy Office should always be sought before any printing or engraving is ordered.

In arranging your event you may find the following official order of precedence for civil dignitaries helpful:

  1. The Lord-Lieutenant
  2. The High Sheriff
  3. The Chairman of the County Council
  4. The Chief Executive of the County Council
  5. The Mayor of the Borough in which the event takes place (but see note 4 below)
  6. The Chief Executive of the Borough
  7. The Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency in which the event takes place
  8. The Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Constituency in which the event takes place
  9. The Chief Constable
  10. The Town Mayor (if any) of the town in which the event takes place

Please note:

  • Except for royal visits, it is not necessary for all the civic dignitaries to be invited to a function, but where any is invited, the order of precedence must be followed.
  • In the case of an event hosted by a borough council, or relating to a particular borough (e.g. Freedom of the Borough Parade), the mayor of that borough and the borough chief executive take precedence over the Chairman of the County Council and the County Chief Executive.
  • Visiting members of the royal family take precedence over all civic dignitaries, but other visiting dignitaries (including mayors of other boroughs) normally take precedence after those listed above.

Arrival arrangements

On arrival, the Lord Lieutenant should be greeted by the host or if this is not possible, by his or her representative. You should allocate someone to accompany the Lord-Lieutenant throughout the visit if the event host is otherwise engaged. Particular provision for car parking will also need to be addressed. Reserved parking should be made available wherever possible, with the space clearly marked or an attendant on hand to direct the dignitary to the reserved space.

It is very important to state clearly the entrance at which the Lord-Lieutenant should arrive, especially where there is any risk of misunderstanding.

It is appropriate to greet the Lord-Lieutenant with words to the effect 'My Lord-Lieutenant welcome to  . . . . .'.   Subsequently the Lord-Lieutenant may be addressed as Ma'am (pronounced as in jam) or Mrs Pyper.

Subject to the time of day and the duration of the visit it would be appreciated if refreshments could be made available for the Lord-Lieutenant's chauffeur if present.

If the arrival is to a formal gathering or service, particularly if there is to be a procession involving other civic dignitaries, the Lord-Lieutenant takes precedence (as a direct representative of the Crown) and so would usually be the last to enter, subject to a few exceptions. If the audience or congregation is seated, it is customary to stand until the Lord-Lieutenant takes her seat. At the conclusion the Lord-Lieutenant would be the first to exit. This point of protocol is further explained in the next section in the context of seating.


Care needs to be taken to ensure that guests are seated in accordance with established protocol and a logical structure.

If the event is a dinner, then the Lord-Lieutenant would sit on the right of the host.

The Lord-Lieutenant is Her Majesty's representative in West Sussex and her first and foremost duty is to uphold the dignity of the Crown. If the Lord-Lieutenant is present at an event in her official capacity representing HM The Queen, then chairmen and mayors must give precedence to her as Lord-Lieutenant of the county.

A common misunderstanding is that the host should sacrifice his or her place, in any seating or similar arrangements, to the Lord-Lieutenant.  This is not the case unless the Lord-Lieutenant were to take the principal place in her own right e.g. being President of the organisation being visited.

If the Vice Lord-Lieutenant or one of the county's Deputy Lieutenants (DLs) is representing the Lord-Lieutenant at a function, then they should be accorded the same precedence as the Lord-Lieutenant.

The High Sheriff takes precedence immediately after the Lord-Lieutenant on Royal occasions and in matters relating to the Judiciary.

Events may also include the local Member of Parliament. In such cases organisers will want to recognise the importance of the office of MP, but should be aware that the local civic dignitaries should still take precedence.

A clear distinction should be made between a "Mayor" (be it a Mayor or Chairman of a District or Borough) and a Town Mayor — the former enjoying precedence over the latter throughout the whole district/borough.

The Visit or Event

While the host will normally accompany the Lord-Lieutenant throughout a visit or event, he or she may hand over at various stages to individuals with a special role.

If during the course of the visit or event there is to be a public speech by the host, or a similar person, the preamble would commence with 'My Lord-Lieutenant'.

The Lord-Lieutenant should never be left unattended, not least because she cannot be expected to know the planned route or sequence of events.

For some major ceremonial events ladies may enquire whether hats and gloves should be worn. The Lord-Lieutenant's view is that regardless of whether she may wear a hat or gloves, she would wish ladies to do whatever they prefer in this respect.

Conclusion of the event

At the end of the visit or event it would be usual for the host to escort the Lord-Lieutenant to the departure point before final farewells.


The Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex participating in a civic event

The Lord-Lieutenant, Mrs Susan Pyper, participating in a civic function