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The Lord Chamberlain or Lord Chamberlain of the Household is one of the chief officers of the Royal Household in the United Kingdommarker and is to be distinguished from the Lord Great Chamberlain, one of the Great Officers of State.

The Lord Chamberlain is always a peer and a privy councillor and before 1782 was of Cabinet rank. Until 1924, the position was a political one. The Lord Chamberlain is the chief functionary of the court and is generally responsible for organising all court functions. He is considered the "senior official" of the Royal Household.

Theatre censorship

From 1737 until 1968, the Lord Chamberlain also had the role of licensor of plays in the City of Londonmarker, Westminstermarker, and certain other areas. (See the Lord Chamberlain's requirements). This role made the Lord Chamberlain effectively the official censor of theatrical performances, although the responsibility was in practice delegated to the Lord Chamberlain's Office.

This duty was abolished under the Theatres Act 1968. One of the catalysts for this change in the law was the prosecution in 1965 of Edward Bond's play Saved, staged at the Royal Court Theatremarker under "club" auspices. The first performance of the musical Hair was delayed until the office's censorship function was abolished.

Other duties

Although the senior officer of the Royal Household on a daily basis is the Private Secretary to the Sovereign, the Lord Chamberlain exercises a major coordination role. The post is normally part-time, though in recent times Lord Maclean served full-time. The current Lord Chamberlain is Lord Peel, who has been the Lord Chamberlain since 12 October 2006.

Lords Chamberlain

Lords Chamberlain since 1485 to the present:

The Commonwealth and The Protectorate (1649–60)

See also


Further reading

  • J.R. Stephens: The Censorship of English Drama 1824-1901 (Cambridge University Press, 1981).
  • John Johnston, The Lord Chamberlain's Blue Pencil (Hodder & Stoughton, 1990. ISBN 0340525290)
  • Nicholas de Jongh, Politics, Prudery and Perversions: The Censoring of the English Stage 1901-1968 (Methuen, 2000. ISBN 0413706206. Winner of Society for Theatre Research Theatre Book Prize, 2000).
  • Dominic Shellard, Steve Nicholson and Miriam Handley: The Lord Chamberlain Regrets ... A History of British Theatre Censorship (British Librarymarker: 2004) (ISBN 0-7123-4865-4).

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