The Lord Chamberlain's Office is a department within the British Royal Household. It is concerned with matters such as protocol, state visits, investitures, garden parties, the State Opening of Parliament, royal weddings and funerals. For example, in April 2005 it organised the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles. It is also responsible for authorising use of the Royal Arms.
List of Comptrollers
- Sir Spencer Ponsonby-Fane GCB ISO (1857–1901)
- Major-General Sir Arthur Ellis, GCVO MC (1901–1907)
- Brigadier-General Sir Douglas Dawson, GCVO KCB CMG (1907–1920)
- Colonel the Honourable Sir George Crichton, GCVO DL (1920–1936)
- Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Terence Nugent, GCVO MC (1936–1960)
- Brigadier Sir Norman Gwatkin, GCVO DSO (1960–1964)
- Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Eric Penn, GCVO OBE MC (1964–1981)
- Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Johnston, GCVO MC (1981–1987)
- Lieutenant-Colonel George Alston-Roberts-West, CVO DL (1987–1990)
- Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Malcolm Ross, GCVO OBE (1991–2005)
- Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Andrew Ford, GCVO (2006–2018)
- Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Vernon (2019 - Present)
The Lord Chamberlain's Office had a more significant role (under the Theatres Act 1843) in British society prior to 1968, as it was the official censor for virtually all theatre performed in Britain. Commercial theatre owners were generally satisfied by the safety this arrangement gave them; so long as they presented only licensed plays they were effectively immune from prosecution for any offence a play might cause. There were campaigns by playwrights, however, in opposition to the Lord Chamberlain's censorship, such as those involving J. M. Barrie in 1909 and 1911. Some plays were not licensed in the 1930s, during the period of appeasement, because they were critical of the German Nazi regime and it was feared that allowing certain plays to be performed might alienate what was still thought of as a friendly government. Lord Cromer, then Lord Chamberlain, regularly consulted the Foreign Office and sometimes, the German Embassy. In the latter case, the submissions were intended to be read by a "friendly German".
By the 1960s, there were many playwrights and producers who wished to produce controversial works such as Lady Chatterley's Lover. Theatre companies such as the Royal Court Theatre came into open conflict with the Lord Chamberlain's Office. Sometimes they would resort to such measures as declaring themselves private clubs for the performance of certain plays. The Lord Chamberlain's Office technically had jurisdiction over private performances, but had generally avoided getting involved with bona-fide private clubs. The various activist groups did not actually come up with solid legal loopholes, but the publicity they generated eventually resulted in the abolition of the role of official censor in the Theatres Act 1968.
- "No. 27295". The London Gazette. 19 March 1901. p. 1936.
- Nicholson, Steve (21 July 2015). "Theatre of war: how the monarchy suppressed anti-Nazi drama in the 1930s". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- Johnston, John (1990). The Lord Chamberlain's Blue Pencil. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-52529-0.
- Nicholson, Steve (2015). The Censorship of British Drama 1900-1968, Volume One 1900-1932. University of Exeter Press. ISBN 9780859896382.