The Cap of Maintenance

Lord Norton

At the State Opening today, the Sword of State and the Cap of Maintenance were carried in procession in front of the Queen.  Various people have asked about the origins of the Cap of Maintenance.  Some sources claim the origins have been lost in time.  However, I am reliably informed by Lord Wakeham – who had the matter researched when he was Lord President of the Council – that it derives from the reign of Henry VII when it was presented to the King by the Pope in recognition of the King’s secular supremacy.  It is only worn once by a sovereign on the occasion of the coronation.

I appreciate that this may not have been the most pressing concern of those watching the ceremony, but I thought it useful to get the origins on record.  It may add to one’s knowledge, unlike the contents of the speech which we knew in advance.

19 comments for “The Cap of Maintenance

  1. Croft
    25/05/2010 at 2:23 pm

    And no leak inquiry. I seem to remember Yes Prime Minister explaining that internal leak inquiries are to shut the story down, if you actually want to find out the answer you’d call in the police.

  2. Bedd Gelert
    25/05/2010 at 7:51 pm

    If the Queen had caught this ‘snapper’ she might not have been amused..

  3. wannabeexpat
    25/05/2010 at 10:03 pm

    Dear Lord Norton,

    Very interesting. Do you know why the particular monarchs have been been immortalised in statue form in the Royal Gallery?


  4. Len
    25/05/2010 at 10:04 pm

    I wonder if you might be able to tell me, Lord Norton, about the judges of the Supreme Court at the State Opening. I recognise that the old style robes (red/white) are some of the senior court of appeal judges (Queen’s Bench, I would assume, but I might be very wrong), but some six justices of the supreme court were also there in their new robes (black/gold).

    But there were five or six other judges with the black/gold trim but in wigs, which I understood the supreme court stopped wearing. I don’t suppose you’d know who they are? And why do they wear robes reminiscent of the Lord Chancellor’s robes?

    My thanks in advance my Lord!

    • Lord Norton
      26/05/2010 at 3:57 pm

      Len: The Justices of the Supreme Court now sit in front on the Clerks. As you note, they sit in their new black and gold robes. Previously, when they were Law Lords they sat with other peers in their peers’ robes: as law lords, they had no special robes. The judges who were sat in front of them yesterday are senior judges who have always been summoned to the State Opening. As there is limited space, I gather they are selected on the basis of a ballot. They are drawn from the different senior courts, hence the mix of attire.

      • Len
        26/05/2010 at 8:43 pm

        Thank you very much Lord Norton!

        I must find myself a guide to these different robes, I find myself intrigued…

  5. Lord Blagger
    26/05/2010 at 7:24 pm

    The Law lords now sit in suits.

    1. Did the Law Lords keep their existing robes?

    2. Did they go and spend a small fortune on new robes to go along with a large fortune on their new building etc?

    Lord Blagger.

    Purveyor of fine robes, with lots of gold fiddly bits.

    • Lord Norton
      27/05/2010 at 4:07 pm

      Lord Blagger: You will be pleased to know that if peers wish to have robes they have to pay for them themselves. I bought mine from a departing hereditary peer.

      The law lords were not responsible for the cost of the new Supreme Court – indeed, at least six of them would have preferred to remain in the Lords. I was against creating the new court. It was unnecessary as well as costly.

  6. Lord Blagger
    26/05/2010 at 7:27 pm

    Here’s a pic of the new robes.

    Cost to you £137,956

    About the same as 70 British Standard Peasants pay in tax in a year (assuming they consume nothing from the state)

    • Len
      28/05/2010 at 12:31 am

      Many of your complaints seem to be about the cost of government. You will of course know that the House of Lords has constitutionally pretty much no authority over money bills, and so complaining to them about it is not particularly productive…

      • ZAROVE
        28/05/2010 at 7:27 am

        Len, as Hypocritical as it may seem from me, Blagger really is just a one trick Pony. he wants to complain about the existence of the Lords using the same tired and inaccurate Arguments we always hear. The same complaints exist against the Queen too, as if somehow being a Republic would be Cheaper. Never mind that a paid Politician as president would still need a palace or White House or something to live in, and would likely have extensive security, travel accommodations ect…

        The Lords costs far less than an Elected Senate would, for its members are not paid and it has no Election Costs. There are also no Political party costs that get smuggled in. But in the Mind of a rabid reformer, that doesn’t matter. Picture the Lords as too expensive, and use this as Justification to remove it.

        of course Lord Blagger wants to Remove the Lords and leave everything open to Direct Democracy. Never Mind how impractical that would be for each bill and decision, and how expensive the extensive computer networking Lord Blagger proposes would be, in his mind its Zero Cost and because its Democratic it is better.

        • 28/05/2010 at 1:58 pm

          “a paid Politician as president would still need a palace or White House or something to live in, and would likely have extensive security, travel accommodations ect…”

          Not to mention that there would be numerous ex-presidents around, who still needed all the security. That’s something you don’t have with a monarchy!

          In the case of “senators”, not only would they require pay, but also pensions when they retire.

    • Gareth Howell
      28/05/2010 at 7:52 am

      “Cost to you £137,956

      About the same as 70 British Standard Peasants pay in tax in a year (assuming they consume nothing from the state)”

      All farm work is done under contract now. ALL of it; ploughing, harrowing, seeding; the lot.

      Blagger must live in a time warp of some sort. Most unpleasant.

    28/05/2010 at 7:21 am

    The only reason the Supreme Court was created, it seems to me, is to mimic the American-Style Republican System, but I imagine that it will bring with it the same problems and some America doesn’t Face in terms of Failing to really be distinct and independent of the Political Process.

    I’m also still a bit confused about how the Justices are Selected.

  8. Gareth Howell
    28/05/2010 at 8:01 am

    “Supreme Court… it seems to me, is to mimic the American-Style Republican System,”

    The Labour govt was a democratic party, and based its values on democracy alone. Reducing the powers of a mainly non-democratic chamber
    was seen as a desirable thing to do.

    Reducing the power of Lord Chancellor to an HofC office and introducing a Minister of Constitutional Affairs as minster in the house of lords may not have been “necessary” as Lord Norton puts it, but it certainly reduced the power of the Lords further still.

    To a democrat that can only be good. To those who apparently do not believe in democracy, it is not.

  9. Dave H
    28/05/2010 at 10:23 am

    I would have associated a Cap of Maintenance more with Henry VIII, especially if the Pope gave it to him after his divorce. However, I guess the concept of alimony and child support were yet to appear on the statute books.

  10. ZAROVE
    28/05/2010 at 8:02 pm

    Gareth Howell, if you read many of my pots, you soon learn that I don’t believe in Democracy. It’s actually the devils system, as it were. Its a form of Government that elevates the Passions of the Crowd to a level of solemnity that it simply doesn’t deserve, acting as if General Will is the same as a Sacred Bond, whilst really not achieving a general Will but a Majoritarian Will. Those how can manipulate the Passions of the members of society win the right to rule us all by simply having 51% of the Vote. Worse, they also Manipulate segments of society in order to achieve their ends, and thus it sin their interest to control how we think, feel, and react.

    Democracy is understood today as an unquestioned good, and we use the term “Undemocratic” to mean Illegitimate, oppressive Tyranny, but the truth is democracy readily becomes Tyrannical in and of itself, and on the high Moral merit of Popular ascent which is easily Manipulated.

    We have embewed the word “Democracy” with an Aura that causes us to react to it in an emotionally positive way, much like words such as Fascism, Communism, and Feudalism have become Slur words. I’ve heard people in America refer to both President Bush and President Obama as “King” in order to insult him because Monarchy to an America is also a Slur word. democracy is the reverse. The word is trotted out to garner support for any Government reform or action and we’re all suppose to go along with it simply because it serves Democracy. Somehow we’re suppose to support all these changes simply because they serve democracy which in and of itself makes them good. And of course Questioning the Reforms means we Question Democracy, which means we are in Favour of denying Liberty and Freedom and seeking Oppression!

    No bother than nothing really shows the Democratic reforms will make us more free or that democratic Governance has proven time and again that it can be oppressive. We just assume its Freedom Bringing, and we assume its good on its own account.

    I prefer a Mixed Government which ensures the abuses of any one system are checked. Democracy can and often is abused, despite our affection for it in Theory in our Modern Era. I prefer an independent House of Lords, comprised of Hereditary and Appointed Peers ( and not just the 92 leftovers, I want them all back) and the peers to be picked in House or by the Crown. I want the Queen to be able to really use her Reserve Powers without Fear of being told she’s not acting properly or threats of disestablishment. I want the Lords Spiritual int he Parliament to add extra Moral Weight. I don’t’ recognise as societies only Moral Weight the Popularity Contest at the Ballot Box every 5 or so years.

    So long as the Crown has real Power, but not too much, and is secured, So long as the Lords have real Power, but not too much, and is secure, and so long as the House of Commons has real power, but not too much, ad is secure, we would have a Stable Government. We err by giving nearly all Powers to the House of Commons, and suffer as a result. Something should check them, and that something should be an independant House of Lords able to revise, or block, Legeslation they pass.

    So no, I don’t believe in Democracy. I believe in Liberty and Stability and Continuity. Endless Democracy makes us unstable and removes Freedom, as we have seen.

    • 30/05/2010 at 9:16 pm

      Zarove, et al:
      I see some sober reasoning in your posts and comments; but it feels so insufficient in the Shadow of so much neglect, incompetence and fantasy-budgeting on high, in both the non-political Problems of The People and the over-politicised Problems of the Parliaments.

      You not appear to mention, much less exhaustively scrutinise, the glaringly obvious need of both British and Worldwide governance systems, whether ‘democratic’ or otherwise, for serious non-politicised two-way communicativity between The People and The State, between elections ?

      All you have from the citizen is a ‘dumb’ single pencilled cross which, as repressively-limited intercommunicativities are in Britain and the World today and ongoingly, has constitutionally to remain that citizen’s ‘dumb’ will for the next five years when, fingers-crossed, s/he might hav been ultimately-empowered to pencil a few ticks on a piece of ballot paper instead of a single cross, still ‘dumb’ and for a further five years !

      Surely the State should be multi-channeled between elections or referenda as an Advocacy service for the lone individual citizen as well as for all upwards numbers of people ?
      The latter might be lucky enough to be included in the present constitutionally-permitted mass-petition which alone gets publication and serious consideration on its way into the Parliamentary offices and chambers; but not so the serious, needy and constructively-submissive individual person ?

      Especially our Parliamentarians should need ongoing serious two-way communication with any number of seriously-submissive people between elections, in order to keep Parliamentary Advocacy of Needs & Hows up-to-date, thus also beginning to deserve the name not necessarily of Democracy but of Governance itself ?

  11. Alina
    02/12/2010 at 9:59 am

    Dear Lord Norton,

    Thank you very much for this explanation.
    I was realy curious about the Cap’s significance in the Opening of Parliament.


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