Ecclesiastical Household

Ecclesiastical Household

The Ecclesiastical Household is a part of the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Reflecting the different constitutions of the Churches of England and of Scotland, there are separate Ecclesiastical Households in each nation.


The Church of England Ecclesiastical Household comprises the College of Chaplains, and the associated Chapel Royal, the Royal Almonry Office, various Domestic Chaplains, and service Chaplains.

The College of Chaplains is under the Clerk of the Closet, an office dating from 1437. It is normally held by a diocesan bishop, who may however remain in office after leaving his see. The current Clerk is the Lord Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev'd Christopher Hill. The Deputy Clerk of the Closet, a new office dating only from 1677, is the Domestic Chaplain to the Sovereign, and Sub-dean of the Chapel Royal, and is the sole full-time clerical member of the Household.

The Clerk of the Closet is responsible for advising the Private Secretary to the Sovereign on the names for candidates to fill vacancies in the Roll of Chaplains to the Sovereign. He presents Bishops for Homage to the Sovereign; examines any theological books to be presented to the Sovereign; and preaches annually in the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace. He receives a salary of £7 a year.

Some 3-4 chaplains are appointed annually, and one is kept vacant for the Sovereign's own choosing.


Her Majesty's Household in Scotland (Ecclesiastical) consists of Chaplains who are all ministers of the Church of Scotland.

The current Dean of the Chapel Royal (since 2006) is the Very Reverend John B. Cairns. Other members are the Dean of the Thistle, the Domestic Chaplain (who is usually the minister at Crathie Kirk) and approximately ten Chaplains in Ordinary. Upon retirement the Chaplains become "Extra Chaplains".

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