Wiltshire was one of the first places in the country to have a female Lord Lieutenant, Sarah Troughton. We asked her to give us an idea of what it involves.
“My main job is to be HM The Queen’s representative in the county and “to uphold the dignity of the Crown”. Old fashioned words possibly but ones I proudly attempt to adopt. Lord-Lieutenants (L-Ls), in every county in the UK, are appointed by HM on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. I was shortlisted with others, perhaps because I have been involved in the voluntary sector with Youth Action Wiltshire and The Community Foundation for many years or perhaps because I am a woman! I was interviewed and a week later a letter arrived from the then Prime Minister David Cameron inviting me to accept the position. I talked it over with my husband Peter, accepted, and I retire when I am 75. The role is unpaid.
Lord-Lieutenants were created in Tudor times by Henry VIII. There was no regular Army at the time, so in times of threat and invasion the monarch asked local noblemen, later called Lieutenants, to assemble defensive forces and militia to quell frequent local rebellions and restore order. These Lieutenants were more than often Lords themselves and the term Lord-Lieutenant grew from there. The role evolved over the centuries from one of keeping law and order in the counties, certainly before there was a police force, to be the sovereign’s representative.
I have an office in County Hall in Trowbridge and am L-L of the historic county of Wiltshire, (which of course is governed by two Councils, Swindon and Wiltshire), and we all work closely together.
My duties are intermittent – some weeks I have 3 or 4 engagements, some weeks none, but average about 120 per annum. They vary hugely – one week I am with the Wiltshire Scouts, the next we have a Royal visit, the next a Police Awards Ceremony, the one after an evening with the Royal Artillery at Larkhill, and that is why I enjoy the job so much. I am also President or Patron of a good mix of charities.
My office organises a number of Royal visits each year – we had 12 in 2018. They are time-consuming and require unbelievably detailed planning, but I believe that they are appreciated and worthwhile! Wiltshire and Swindon this last year had visits from HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, including a visit to Arkell’s Swindon Brewery and with HRH The Prince of Wales a wonderful and important visit to Salisbury after the Novichok poisonings. There were also visits from The Princess Royal, The Earl and Countess of Wessex and The Duchess of Gloucester, and there are more planned for 2019.
I am delighted to host a ceremony for those awarded the British Empire medal each year. We have held them at Bowood, Wiltshire Council, Great Chalfield and this year in Salisbury Cathedral.
I have a badge of office – a pretty red and white enamel and pearl Tudor Rose hanging on a bow. The male L-Ls have a military uniform with a sword and spurs. The first female L-L to be chosen was the Duchess of Norfolk (a good Tudor name) in the 1960s, and there is now a healthy balance of men and women. I am the first Lady Lord-Lieutenant in Wiltshire, but not the first in the country.
I have 4 or 5 young people picked from the 3 Cadet Forces, assigned to me as L-L Cadets each year. They accompany me on lots of trips and are always present at Royal visits. They appear in full uniform, outsmart us all and are a credit to young people today. They would carry the male L-L’s sword, in churches for example, but I do not ask them to carry my handbag! They often ask me what they should do on an engagement. I suggest that they should salute anyone and everyone at every opportunity, and if possible, find me a cup of tea.
I work with the High Sheriff – an even older title than the Lieutenancy, from the 1200s, which is an annual post and whose main duty is to care for the Judiciary. I also have a Vice Lord- Lieutenant and a number of Deputy Lieutenants to help me, to whom I am most grateful.
I thoroughly enjoy my post and am honoured indeed to be the Lord-Lieutenant of this wonderful county of ours.”
Sarah Troughton, Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire