Luncheon for The Heir

15th November 2014

It has become traditional that every year on the Saturday nearest the 14th November we should hold a lunch at the Dog & Bear, Lenham, to celebrate the birthday of The Prince of Wales, and this year was no different. Once again we were fortunate to have a guest speaker, Sir Jeremy Elwes, who gave us a talk on ‘The Honours System’.

As Sir Jeremy was made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1984 for his public service, made a Knight in 1994 and is currently the Treasurer of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor, there can be few better qualified to talk on the arcane subject of the British system of Honours.

Once the Loyal Toast and the Toast to The Prince of Wales had been honoured, Sir Jeremy began his talk by explaining how knighthood was introduced in Britain when King Alfred knighted his grandson, who later became King Athelstan. With the title of knight came the obligation to perform military service, and knights were attended by squires, from which we derive the honorific ‘esquire’, although that is gradually falling into disuse. King Canute created earls, who had responsibility for counties, their deputies later being named as ‘vice-counts’, hence viscounts, and King William I created barons. Initially these titles were borne by the individual for his lifetime, but gradually they became hereditary. The title of marquess relates to nobles charged with defending the ‘marches’ or boundaries of the kingdom. Because kings themselves were dukes, a title deriving from the Latin ‘dux’ for ‘leader’, this honour was largely conferred on members of their own families, with very few being granted to unrelated nobles.

Titles were conferred sparingly until the reign of King James I, who shamelessly raised revenue by selling knighthoods, and hereditary baronetcies, on an industrial scale not to be repeated until David Lloyd George sold peerages and other honours to raise party funds.

The last former Prime Minister to accept the customary hereditary earldom was Harold Macmillan, and the last to take a life peerage on retirement was Margaret Thatcher. Under successive Prime Ministers automatic knighthoods for holders of certain public offices, such as the Lord Mayor of London, have been phased out.

Sir Jeremy then moved on to explain the Byzantine system of conferring honours in the present day. Some - the Garter, Thistle, Royal Victorian Order and Order of Merit are in the personal gift of the Sovereign, while others - the Bath, St.Michael & St.George, Companion of Honour, Order of the British Empire and Privy Councillor are awarded on political advice. The last hereditary honour was the baronetcy conferred on Denis Thatcher. Because of past irregularity a stringent process of examination of nominations is now in place, and Sir Jeremy concluded his fascinating talk, which he illustrated with appropriate slides, with a word of advice - if you are hoping for an honour, don’t tout for one!


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17th November 2012


A record number of thirty two members and friends made the hotel’s function room feel comfortably full, and the decorations of flags and portraits of the Prince created just the right atmosphere. We were delighted that, after a period of ill health, our Chairman, Bishop Damien Mead, was able to take his place at the top table and welcome us all in his inimitable style.

The guest of honour and speaker was Dr. Barry Twigg, who spoke enthusiastically about the success of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. He had commentated on events for a French TV channel, and lost no opportunity in telling viewers about the advantages of a constitutional monarchy!

But the lunch was primarily to honour The Prince of Wales’s birthday, and Dr. Twigg also spoke of His Royal Highness’s contribution to the Jubilee, praising in particular his touching and heartfelt speech to Her Majesty during the concert in front of Buckingham Palace, and his highly successful tour of Commonwealth Realms Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand, accompanied by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.


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Celebrating the Diamond Jubilee


28TH APRIL 2012

Group members met in the beautifully decorated function room of the Dog and Bear, Lenham, to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen. The walls were festooned with Union Flags and portraits of The Queen, and the table was given a suitably patriotic look with red, white and blue napkins and photographs of members of the Royal Family.

Our guests of honour were Group Captain Patrick Tootal OBE DL RAF (Ret’d), and Mrs.Tootal, CMA Headquarters were represented by Dr.Barry Twigg, and we were pleased to welcome new members attending for the first time.

Group Chairman Bishop Damien Mead presided and said Grace before the meal of traditional English dishes. Of course, this being Kent, Romney Lamb was a popular choice! Barry Twigg proposed the Loyal Toast, and another to the Duke of Edinburgh, whose unfailing support was touchingly referred to by the Queen in her Jubilee speech at Westminster Hall.

After the meal Patrick Tootal gave a fascinating illustrated talk in which he told us a little of his career in the RAF, first as a flying officer, then as a station commander and finally as a Defence Attaché. This role took him to Madrid, where he came into contact with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, and Buenos Aires immediately after the Falklands War, which was an especially interesting and challenging post! After retirement from the RAF he spent several years working with service charities, including the Royal British Legion. He is now Hon. Secretary of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust. With such a distinguished career and wide experience it is no wonder he was invited to become a Deputy Lieutenant.

But the main part of his talk was about his duties as a Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, and the work of the Lieutenancy in general. It was probably a revelation to many to learn just how deeply involved it is in the life of our county. The next few weeks will be particularly busy, as Patrick will be visiting no fewer than seventeen schools to talk to children about the Monarchy and the significance of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Naturally, members were interested to ask about his meetings with members of the Royal Family, and he told us how he admires all of them, but has found accompanying the Duchess of Cornwall on her official visits to the county to be especially enjoyable.

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To show our appreciation to Patrick a collection was taken for the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust. The Memorial itself is in our own county, on the cliff top at Capel-le-Ferne.

Before the very enjoyable afternoon came to an end the Chairman was proud to announce that, thanks to the generosity of members, £325 has been donated by the Kent Group to the Woodland Trust’s Diamond Jubilee Appeal, which is under the patronage of HRH The Princess Royal.



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Luncheon for The Heir


On November 12th 2011 the Kent Group met in Lenham to celebrate the 63rd birthday of the Prince of Wales, with a lunch at the Dog & Bear Hotel.

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At the end of the meal, glasses were raised in the Loyal Toast followed by a toast to the Prince of Wales. The meal was followed by a photographic quiz.