Queen appoints former MI5 chief as top Royal Family official

5 February 2021, 20:15

Andrew Parker has been appointed as Lord Chamberlain to the Royal Family
Andrew Parker has been appointed as Lord Chamberlain to the Royal Family. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The Queen has appointed a former head of MI5 as a senior Royal family official, Buckingham Palace has said.

Andrew Parker, Baron of Minsmere, will take up the role of Lord Chamberlain on April 1 - the most senior official position in the family.

He will succeed Earl Peel, who is retiring after more than 14 years in the post.

Baron Parker served as director-general of MI5 from April 2013 until last year and was a career intelligence officer having joined MI5 in 1983.

He hosted the Queen's first visit to MI5's headquarters in central London in February last year, when she praised the intelligence agency's officers for the "tireless work you do to keep our country safe".

Andrew Parker will replace Earl Peel, who has been in the role for 14 years
Andrew Parker will replace Earl Peel, who has been in the role for 14 years. Picture: PA Images

Earl Peel, 73, delayed his retirement due to Covid-19 while the search for his successor took place.

He was due to step down at the end of 2020 but extended his notice period by around three months.

Baron Parker will head the Queen's working household and it will be his job to ensure the smooth running of all the different departments.

The post of Lord Chamberlain, which pays around £90,000 a year, is a part-time one and includes chairing regular meetings of all heads of department.

Baron Parker led the intelligence agency's response to the July 7 London terrorist attacks in 2005, and the following year his teams played a leading role in the disruption of Al-Qaeda's attempt to attack multiple airliners with bombs hidden in drinks bottles.

Earl Peel will step down as Lord Chamberlain after serving in the role for 14 years
Earl Peel will step down as Lord Chamberlain after serving in the role for 14 years. Picture: PA Images

He was later promoted to deputy director-general of MI5 in 2007 before becoming head of the security service in 2013.

He retired from the post in April last year and in an interview that month said the pandemic could force ministers to "adjust the dials" on public spending.

The Lord Chamberlain also oversees all senior appointments in the household, is the channel of communication between the sovereign and the House of Lords and ensures coordination between Buckingham Palace and Clarence House.

The position dates from the Middle Ages, when the King's Chamberlain often acted as the king's spokesman in council and parliament.

On ceremonial occasions, the Lord Chamberlain carries a white staff and a gold key, the symbols of his office.

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