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chamberlain, lord great

chamberlain, lord great. Originally in charge of the royal chamber and known as the master chamberlain, the office-holder had some financial responsibilities since part of the king's treasure was kept there. Later he lost most of his duties to the treasurer and other officers, but retained responsibility for the palace of Westminster, the opening of Parliament, and the introduction of new peers. He also attended the coronation and handed water to the monarch before and after the banquet. From 1133 the office was hereditary in the de Vere family, though with interruptions and vicissitudes, until it passed in 1626 to their cousins the Berties, as Lords Willoughby de Eresby.

The office of lord chamberlain is quite distinct. He has direct charge of the royal household and in 1737 was given the power of licensing plays. This was strengthened by an Act of 1843 and not abolished until 1968. The vice-chamberlain is a deputy to the lord chamberlain.

J. A. Cannon

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