The office of the sovereign, be it a monarch or an assembly, consisteth in the end for which he was trusted with the sovereign power, namely the procuration of the safety of the people, to which he is obliged by the law of nature... (Thomas Hobbes, The Leviathan, The Second Part, Chapter 30: Of the Office of the Sovereign Representative.)
Introduction and history
The 1653 Instrument of Government (republican constitution) stated that
- Oliver Cromwell, Captain-General of the forces of England, Scotland and Ireland, shall be, and is hereby declared to be, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, and the dominions thereto belonging, for his life.
The replacement constitution of 1657, the Humble Petition and Advice, gave 'His Highness the Lord Protector' the power to nominate his successor. Cromwell chose his son Henry. This was a non-representative and de facto dynastic mode of succession, with royal connotations in both styles awarded, even a double invocation 16 December 1653 "By the Grace of God and Republic Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland" and many other monarchic prerogatives, such as awarding knighthoods.
The Humble Petition and Advice also gave the Lord Protector to choose up to twenty-one Councillors of the Commonwealth Council of State.
The office and powers of the Protector were reformed by the Constitutional Framework.
The Lord Protector, head of State of the Commonwealth, holds office for life, but is not hereditary. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, land and sea, of England, Scotland and Ireland. He can dissolve the House of Commons and immediately call for elections, can grant pardons to convicted persons, present bills and money bills for consideration and vote to the Parliament, regulate the armed forces and appointments. The Protector appoints the judges of the high courts on proposal of the Lord Chancellors.
Names the Lord President and candidates members to the Council, whom the House of Commons votes to approve or reject. Chairs the sessions of the Council and exercises his authority on advice of the Council, signs the Orders in Council and Commonwealth Charters. The Protector directs foreign relations along the Secretary of State and the Council of State and appoints ambassadors and receives foreign envoys. Names part of the members of the Senate for a six year term.
Names the Lord President of Scotland, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Governors and Lieutenant Governors of the former crown dependencies and of colonies, dominions and territories. Names the Chancellors of the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall and the Lord of Man and the Isles. The Protector grants honours, knighthoods and peerage.
Election of the Protector
The Lord Protector had the power to nominate his successor until 1736. However after the Constitutional Framework he can still nominate his successors or in case of absence the Senate names his successor or candidate to the Protectorship. In either case and following custom the House of Commons after the first address of the Protector to the Parliament votes to accept or reject the nomination and proceeds to call for the formal installation and oath.
The Act on the Election of Lord Protector by Parliament (1736) established that the whole Commonwealth Parliament (House of Commons and Senate) assembled as an electoral assembly elects the Lord Protector on a candidate or list of candidates provided by the Commonwealth Council of State or by the Senate. The rules of election are to be decided by a joint commission of the House of Commons and the Senate. The Lord Protector serves for a mandate of seven years (1736-1767), later ten years(1767 to date) with no limits for the reelection for another mandate.
The Protectors' elections were held usually no more then a month after the death the previous office holder. However since the Act of 1736, by custom the election of the Protector is held around Midsummer Day (24 June, officially Quarter Day) with a variation of a week or two. This custom as stood regardless of the early death or removal from office of the Protector.
On the installation, Protectors are required to give the following oath (Claim of Rights Act of 1702 wording):
- I (name), Solemnly promise and swear to govern the people of this Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, and the dominions thereunto belonging, according to the statutes in parliament agreed on, and the laws and customs of the same".
The Regency Bill of 1761, passed by the Commonwealth Parliament at the death of Campbell set the precedent for filling the office if the Lord Protector died, was incapacitated or removed before the end of his term. In these cases Parliament enacts a special Regency Bill that calls for the meeting of both Houses as prescribed in the Act of 1736 within three months and appoints a Board of Regents (i.e. Commissioners of the Great Seal) to administer the Commonwealth and carry the prescribed State functions of the Protectorship as detailed in the Regency Bill.
Lord Protector's regalia
The symbols of office or regalia of the Lord Protector are the ceremonial robe, the civic crown or diadem/tiara (added in the late 18th century as part of a Roman Classicism revival fad at that time and the use more republican symbolism after the French Revolution), Commonwealth mace (keep at the House of Parliament), purple cap of maintenance or coronet, and protectorship sash. These besides the Standard of the Lord Protector and Armed Forces Standard that are State symbols.
Now are days its more usual in everyday protocol and appearance the usage of the insignia of the Lord/Lady Protector (Grand Cross like design of the Standard of the Lord Protector) as a badge with the option of the protectorship sash in the shoulder or waist (blue colored, as Order of the Garter and National Order and Legion of Merit).
At the installation of the Lord Protector the regalia used are: A robe of purple velvet lined with ermine, a Sword of state and a Scepter, and the Bible, sitting in the "Coronation Chair" or "King Edward's Chair." The regalia of the installation is almost the same one used by previous monarchs of England, Scotland and Ireland.
The original regalia of the former kings and queens of England, Scotland and Ireland was either sold off during Oliver Cromwell's tenure or keep at present in the Tower of London Museum and the premises of the Scottish (Edinburgh) and Irish (Dublin) Offices.
The Protectorship's Peerage and Honours (or British Peerage and Honours)
All British Commonwealth peerages (Peer of the Commonwealth) are given out or created by the Lord Protector. In some cases for Scotland and Ireland, by advise of the Lord President and Lord Lieutenant, can peerages and honours be given out.
Thought the peerage and honours system has been involved several times in scandals despite several Acts and Orders in Council addressing the problems of sales of orders and medals as part of government patronage.
British peerage is created and granted by letters patent issued by the Protector. The ranks of peerage, with its male and female forms are: Duke/Duchess, Marquess/Marchioness, Earl/Countess, Viscount/Viscountess and Baron/Baroness, Baronet/Baronetess and Knight/Lady or Dame. For North America two unique ranks were created in 1671: Landgrave/Landgravines (equivalent to Earl), and Cassique/Cassica (equivalent to Viscount). The title of Cassique is mostly bestowed upon the Chief (Chieftain) or leader of the Native American tribes.
The Commonwealth Honours system consists of:
- Honours are used to recognise merit in terms of achievement and service. Being the most important The Most Noble Order of the Garter, followed by the National Order of Merit, the Order of the Protectorate (or Dunbar medal, for the land forces) and the Commonwealth Naval Order. Scotland and Ireland have their particular honours: Order of the Thistle and Order of Saint Patrick given out to seniority and outstanding services in the civil service, military, academia and industry.
- Decorations tend to be used to recognise specific deeds.
- Medals are used to recognise bravery, long and/or valuable service and/or good conduct. The most important one is the Cross of Saint George for the military and naval valour, followed by the medals of Order of Merit for courage, geniuses and spiritual authority.
Lord Protectors of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland
(April 1599 – Sept. 1658)
|December 1653 - September 1658||Cromwellian|
(January 1628 – March 1696)
|September 1658- March 1696||Cromwellian|
|James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth
(April 1649 – July 1718)
|March 1696- July 1718||Whig|
|William Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Devonshire
(1672 – 4 June 1729)
|July 1718 - June 1729||Whig Junto|
|Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend
(April 1674 – June 1738)
|June 1729 - June 1738||Whig Junto|
|John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville
(April 1690 – January 1763)
|June 1738 -June 1752||Whig|
|Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll
(June 1682 – April 1761)
|June 1752 - April 1761||Scottish Whig|
|Council of Regents (i.e. Commissioners of the Great Seal)||April-June 1761|
|John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford
(Sept. 1710 – January 1771)
|June 1761 - June 1768||Patriot Whig -> Patriot Party|
|Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Marquess of Stafford
(August 1721 –Oct. 1803)
|June 1768 - June 1778||Tory-Country Coalition|
|Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton
(Sept. 1735 – March 1811)
|June 1778 - June 1788||Radical Reformer --> Radical Alliance |
|Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Marquess of Stafford
(August 1721 –Oct. 1803)
|June 1788 - June 1798||National Reform PU|
|George Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer
(September 1758 – November 1834)
|June 1798 - June 1808||Radical Alliance|
Official residences of the Lord Protector and family are
|Hampton Court Palace and Manor|
|Manor near the city of York||Former King's Manor.|