Planning a Royal Visit
These notes have been drawn up to assist organisations in hosting successful and memorable Royal Visits. The role of the Lieutenancy is to advise, coordinate and to facilitate a happy occasion for all concerned.
Each Royal Visit has unique characteristics and not all aspects of the advice which follows will be applicable in full to every visit. Nevertheless, the general framework for organising Royal Visits should be followed in all cases.
Preparing the Programme
The Lord Lieutenant has overall responsibility for recommending a suitable programme to the Royal Household. Soon after the notification by the Royal Household of an impending visit, the Lieutenancy Officer (Robin Roberts) will make contact with the host organisation to arrange an initial planning meeting. A number of other agencies also have important roles in the arrangements for Royal Visits, not least Cheshire Police. A representative of the Constabulary will probably attend the initial planning meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss ideas for the programme and to offer advice and guidance on timings, protocol and security. It is helpful if host organisations can provide the name of an operational contact to liaise with the Lieutenancy and the Police during the planning stages.
The Lieutenancy Officer will work with the host organisation in drafting a detailed programme and will liaise as appropriate with the Royal Household. Approximately four weeks before the visit, a formal Household Reconnaissance will take place involving the Royal Visitor’s Private Secretary and/or Personal Protection Officer to go through the programme on site with the host. At this stage, the final detailed programme will be agreed. It is essential that the principal representative of the host organisation is present at the Reconnaissance and has authority to agree the proposed programme. The timetable for submission of briefing material will be agreed at this point.
Seating plans for formal ceremonies, lunches and dinners, together with the proposed wording for invitations and any plaques to be unveiled, should be agreed with the Lieutenancy Officer as early as possible prior to submission to the Royal Household for approval.
The agreed proposed programme (together with, in the case of a multi-engagement visit, the proposed programmes agreed with the other host organisations) will be submitted by the Lieutenancy Officer for the Royal Visitor’s final approval. After a programme has been agreed by the Household, it must not be changed.
The Day of the Visit
As The King’s personal representative, the Lord-Lieutenant (or Vice Lord-Lieutenant /Deputy Lieutenant if she is unavailable) will receive the Royal Visitor at the first point of arrival in the county. Thereafter, the Lord Lieutenant will present at the first engagement:-
High Sheriff of Cheshire and Spouse
Mayor of Unitary Council and Mayoress/Consort
Chief Executive of Unitary Council
Member of Parliament
Chief/Deputy Chief Constable
Principal Host for Visit
and at each subsequent engagement:-
Mayor of the Unitary Council (if different from above) and Mayoress/Consort
Chief Executive of Unitary Council (if different from above)
Member of Parliament (if different from above)
Principal Host for Visit
The Royal Visitor will be accompanied by a Private Secretary/Lady-in-Waiting and a Personal Protection Officer. The Lord-Lieutenant remains with the Royal Visitor throughout the visit. It is assumed that each host organisation will wish to invite those listed above to attend their event and to plan a separate itinerary for them.
All security arrangements leading up to, and on the day of, the visit are made by the Cheshire Police (in consultation, as necessary, with the Royal Visitor’s Protection Officer) and the host organisation is advised separately by Cheshire Police of any necessary action.
Details of the Royal Visit should be restricted on a need-to-know basis until a formal announcement is made by the Household. The involvement of any press/ photography/social media coverage of the event on the day must be cleared by the Household beforehand. The host organisation must appoint a person to be responsible for managing any external press/media attending.
Whilst the intention is for the visit programme to be as detailed and precise as possible, be prepared to be flexible on the day. For example, the Royal Visitor may be running ahead or behind schedule, so arrangements should be in place to cope with an earlier or later than expected arrival time.
A visit by a member of the Royal Family involves a lot of careful planning and hard work, but it can also give enormous pleasure to everyone involved and make all feel valued and acknowledged.