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Lord Shuttleworth - the monarch's red rose guardian

PUBLISHED: 01:21 04 June 2012 | UPDATED: 10:51 04 April 2016

Lord Shuttleworth, the Lord Lieutenant at Shadsworth Infant School, Blackburn

Lord Shuttleworth, the Lord Lieutenant at Shadsworth Infant School, Blackburn

Lord Shuttleworth has probably spent more time with the Queen than any other Lancastrian.<br/>He talks exclusively to Roger Borrell

For those unlucky enough to live beyond the borders of the red rose county, our loyal toast can be a puzzling affair. It goes: ‘The Queen, Duke of Lancaster.’

This often provokes the question: ‘So, just who is this Duke?’ Telling them the Duke is actually the Queen usually prompts furrowed brows or looks of disbelief.

But those five words epitomise Lancashire’s relationship with Her Majesty and their roots spread all the way back to 1265.

In that year a gift of land was made by King Henry III to his son, Edmund. Nearly a century later, in 1351, Edmund’s grandson, Henry of Grosmont, received the title Duke of Lancaster, and his estates became known as the Duchy of Lancaster.

Lancashire’s royal connections were made permanent in 1399 with the accession to the throne of Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster. Ever since, the title and its riches have been inherited by the reigning sovereigns.

Over the centuries, the Duchy has played a key role in many events in the history of this nation. It was a springboard to the throne for the House of Lancaster, a power base in the Wars of the Roses and its wealth proved to be a vital resource for kings and queens in later periods.

Lord Shuttleworth, from one of the county’s oldest families, is Her Majesty’s eyes and ears when it comes to Lancashire and he is her protector when she crosses into the county. Lord Shuttleworth is heavily involved in the Duchy and he organises Royal visits to Lancashire.

This affable man is every inch a monarchist, but he has rebel blood in his veins. One of the Lord Lieutenant’s historic duties was to be in charge of the local militia. However, one of Lord Shuttleworth’s ancestors was William Shuttleworth, governor at Lancaster during the Civil War.

By strange quirk of history, William was a champion of the parliamentary forces and he paid with his life for his opposition to the monarchy. Hundreds of years later, it would be hard to find a more ardent champion of Queen Elizabeth II than William’s descendant.

‘Yes, it’s true,’ he laughs. ‘One of my ancestors fought for the Parliamentarians against the crown but I think I’ve managed to square it with Her Majesty. We’ve buried the hatchet!’

While he accepts that we don’t get any special treatment, Lord Shuttleworth recognises the special relationship between Lancashire and the Queen. ‘The fact she is the Duke of Lancaster means she is particularly special to us and we have planned to reflect that in the Blackburn Cathedral service marking her Jubilee,’ he says.

‘The Duchy has been around for 600 years and this adds more continuity and stability to the county and to the nation.

‘The special relationship is heightened by the fact that Lancaster Castle, which is owned by the Duchy, has been vacated by the prison service and for the first time in 250 years it is back in our possession.

‘Now we have the place empty we are working with the heritage experts, Malcolm Reading, to find a sustainable use for it. Her Majesty will be expecting us to look after it properly but also to find a purpose which creates a bond with the county and provides an element of public use. People are very interested in this building.’

There is the old chestnut about the Queen saying she would like to retire to Lancashire. Says Lord Shuttleworth: ‘When you take a trek around the Hodder Valley with its stunning views, the tremendous hills and wonderful greenery we might all think “Gosh, wouldn’t it be a nice place to live.” Sadly, in the Queen’s case, that isn’t going to happen.’

It was during her visit to the Hodder Valley in 2006 that the Queen had her first ever pub lunch at the Inn at Whitewell, part of the Duchy estate.

‘Forty of us sat down for a meal there and afterwards she said: “If that’s a pub lunch I’d like one on every trip”. The word got out to my fellow Lord Lieutenants and the next visit she made to Cumbria involved a pub lunch!’

Lord Shuttleworth pays tribute to the enthusiasm of the Queen whose energy levels belie her years. ‘She does make the occasional private visit here and a couple I can think of that came right under the radar. The there was the Royal Variety performance at Blackpool and presenting of the colours to the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment at Fulwood in Preston.

‘Her recent trip to East Lancashire was always going to be interesting and I’m delighted that she decided to visit this part of the county because it’s an area that needs help and encouragement.

‘The Jubilee is a very good opportunity for us to say thank you for 60 years of loyal service but also to have a good time. We all need a good party and I’d urge people to be part of the Big Lunch on the Sunday of the Jubilee weekend.

I’m hoping that people in streets, in flats, in rows of shops will get together and get to know neighbours they might not have met.’

There have been the usual spate of stories of council bureaucrats and health and safety bods making life difficult. ‘They can do their worst but I’m sure they won’t stop people enjoying themselves,’ Lord Shuttleworth adds. ‘People have got to be responsible and I could never advocate anything illegal, but we don’t want officialdom to become over-zealous.’

The Lord Lieutenant, whose family once occupied Gawthorpe Hall, makes no bones about his regard for the Queen. ‘She is the most respected woman in the world,’ he declares. ‘She is extremely good at getting on with people from all different walks of life and nationalities. It’s hard work physically and it’s not always a thrill a minute.

But she still manages to leave the rest of us trailing in her wake.
‘She is an unexpectedly refreshing person to be with. She really helps people along and that extends right across the family. We are very lucky – just about everyone comes away feeling better for having been in her company.’

Lord Shuttleworth and other members of the Lieutenancy have visited 280 schools across Lancashire talking to youngsters about the role of the monarchy. ‘It has been fascinating. It was particularly interesting to me that when I put up a slide or two of the Duchess of Cambridge everyone could identify her. She really has captured the minds of the young ones to such an extent that many have the misplaced assumption that Prince William will be the next king.’

Does the monarchy have a future in a modern democracy? ‘Without a doubt,’ says Lord Shuttleworth. ‘We don’t have to scratch around looking for an elected head of state. The monarchy gives us stability and continuity and, strange as it may seem, it fits in very well with a democracy.

‘This is a great time of celebration and I’m looking forward to the service at St Paul’s Cathedral where I shall be waving the flag of Lancashire – metaphorically, of course!’

The Queen on visits to Lancashire during her reign and some covers from our archive

Land of the Duchy

Just what is the Duchy of Lancaster? As a private landed estate, it provides the sovereign of the day with a source of income independent from Government and the public purse. The sovereign does not, however, have the right to any capital or capital gains deriving from The Duchy. It is therefore the role of the Duchy to protect and preserve those assets and ensure that they generate an income payable to the Privy Purse.


Today, The Duchy of Lancaster is custodian of 18,700 hectares across England and Wales, including key urban developments, historic buildings, high-quality farm land and areas of great natural beauty. Over 24 per cent of the land owned is in Lancashire: the estates of Myerscough, Salwick, Winmarleigh, Whitewell and Wyreside. Of these the two largest are Myerscough and Whitewell which cover 485 and 2,387 hectares respectively.


One of the ways in which the Duchy discharges its duties is to actively encourage the establishment, growth and development of rural businesses run by its tenants. These can be hugely diverse – environmentally friendly holiday lodges at Myerscough and the nearby agricultural college, the legendary Inn at Whitewell, various dairy and livestock products and services across Whitewell, the garage and post office, village shop and Puddleducks café at Dunsop Bridge.


Across the estate, there are original fine artists, vehicle repair services, landscaping businesses, contractors, bed and breakfast operators, farm shops and freelance photographers. The Duchy also owns large areas of the Lancashire shoreline.



The print version of this article appeared in the June 2012  issue of Lancashire Life 
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