Great Officers of the Crown

These positions and the arrangement of them were highly influenced by the three dominant nations surrounding Wales. The English Court, the Scottish Court and the French Court. There were some positions which were uniquely Welsh however such as the Bardd y Twysog.

The Welsh Courts of State followed the Scottish model in the separation of the three State Courts.

In the modern era the 1974 Constitution removed many powers from the non-political Officers of State, but as the Communists were not in sufficient majority to remove the Monarchy, the Three Courts survived even if many of the positions were relegated to a purely honorific nature.

First Court of State - Officers of State

These are the political offices of State which are tied with acting Members of Senedd (both Upper and Lower Houses). These offices hold the highest presteige within the Welsh political system and as such were tied by the 1974 Constitution to elected or politically controlled office.

  • Arglwydd Llywydd y Cyngor Gyfrin (Lord President of the Privy Council) - Distain (Foreign Secretary) 
  • Ceidwad y Sêl Cyfrin (Keeper of the Privy Seal) - Gwas Ystafell y Senedd (Lord Chamberlain of the Upper House)
  • Tywysog Lyngesydd Cymru (Prince-Admiral of Wales) – Appointed Military Rank given to the professional head of the Navy
  • Iarll Lywydd Cymru (Earl Marshal of Wales) – This position is only appointed during a coronation and is would usually be the professional Head of the Armed Forces (Chief of the Defence Staff). Where that position is held by the head of the navy then the most senior from the heads of the Army or Air Force would be granted the title. Prior to the advent of the air force this title was only ever granted to the head of the army.
  • Brawdwr Llys (Lord Justice of Wales) - This title covers both the ceremonial and the political aspects and is given to the head of the Judiciary (who is also head of the Department of Justice).

Second Court of State - Officers of the Crown

These are a mixture of ceremonial positions and management positions within the Royal Household. Under the 1974 Constitution these offices were largely stripped of any formal political power and retained mainly as aspects of Court life, namely the death, accession and coronation of monarchs. The two exceptions to this are the position of Gwas Ystafell, which was combined with the position of Gwas Ystafell Senedd to provide a duality to the role and the rank of Arglwydd Lyngesydd Cymru (which had been merged with the position of Secretary of the Navy)

  • Gwas Ystafell – Lord Great Chamberlain (Leader of the Upper House)
  • Pen-Llywydd y Marchawg-lu yn Nheyrnas Ngymru (lit Head of the Knightly Host of the Kingdom of Wales- Constable of Wales). In modern times this title has become Prif-Farchog Teyrnas Cymru (Chief Knight of the Kingdom of Wales. Traditionally this title is held by the first knight made by a new monarch and the holder retains this position until their death or the ascension of a new monarch
  • Pen Tywysog Llongau a Llyngesau Deyrnas Cymru (lit Head Chief of the Ships and Fleets of the Kingdom of Wales) - Admiral of Wales. This title later became merged with the position of Prince-Admiral. After the 1796 restoration a new Officer of the Crown position was created called Arglwydd Lyngesydd Cymru (Lord Admiral of Wales) which in turn became merged with the political office of the Secretary of the Navy in modern times.
  • Gwastrawd Afwyn – Groom of the Rein (Similar to French Grand Squire or the English Master of Horse) This is a military appointment and is usually (but not always) a member of one of the cavalry regiments and is within the personal gift of the monarch. The duties have changed over the centuries but under Llewellyn this position has regained control of the Court of Equerry (and therefore the various equerry functions) with the Gwastrawd Afwyn also holding responsibility for Crown Ceremonial (outside of coronations & funerals)
  • Ceidwad Pwrs Gyfrin - Keeper of the Privy Purse. This was an innovation of Cystennin and mirrored the Anglo-Scottish court position.

Third Court of State - Officers of the Royal Household

These positions relate purely to the Royal Household and hold no political power. In addition these positions and titles cannot be granted to any elected member of the Senedd or the Government. They  are purely honorific in nature,  although they do hold power and influence within the Royal Court and again do have roles allocated to them in relation to coronations.

Gwas Ystafell Cartref Brenhinol - Chamberlain of the Royal Household

Drysor Ystafell – Lord of the Royal Household

Drysor Neuadd  - Keeper of the Royal Palaces

Gyffeswr Offeiriad Teulu - Priest Confessor to the Royal Court  

Prifardd y Tywsog - Bard of the Royal Court

Meddyg y Tywsog - Medic to the Royal Court

The Great Officers of the Royal Court up to 1718 (In rank of seniority)

During the pre-occupation era, the Great Officers of the Welsh Royal Court was a One Court system. The offices themselves varied reign by reign and the position of Canghellor vied with Brawdwr Llys and Distain for prominence. By the time of Dafydd V the position of Canghellor had become associated primarily with the Senedd amd ceased to be a Officer of the Royal Court. As a result the position of Brawdwr Llys became preeminent within the Court.

Brawdwr y Llys (lit Court Judge) – Lord Justice of the Royal Court (Runs the Judiciary)

Distain (Steward) – Lord High/Great Steward – Runs the Royal Household

Gwas Ystafell (Chamberlain) – Lord Great Chamberlain – In charge of the Kings Chamber

Lord President of the Privy/Kings Council

Penteulu (lit Family Head) – Lord/Earl Marshal of Wales – In charge of the Royal Guard/Army

Morlaw – Lord Admiral of Wales – (Prior to position of Prince-Admiral)

Offeiriad Teulu (lit Family Priest) – Priest of the Royal Court/Royal Chaplain

Drysor Ystafell – Door Keeper of the Royal Chamber (honorific military position)

Drysor Neuadd – Door Keeper of the Royal Hall (honorific military position)

Gwastrawd Afwyn – Groom of the Rein (Similar to French Grand Squire or the English Master of Horse)

Meddyg – Medic or Royal Physician

Bardd Teulu (literally Family Poet) – Also known as Bardd y Twysog (Poet to Princes)

Penhebogydd – Chief Falconer

Pencynydd – Chief Huntsman

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