BBC ALBA documentary gives first glimpse of the life of a Lord-Lieutenant

The programme follows the work of long-time Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles, Donald Martin, pictured, in his last six months in the position. NO F26 Donald Martin
The programme follows the work of long-time Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles, Donald Martin, pictured, in his last six months in the position. NO F26 Donald Martin

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Lord-Lieutenants and their duties are steeped in tradition, and now, for the first time in Scotland, a new BBC ALBA documentary will shine a light on the role.

Cara a’ Chrùin – Domhnall Martainn (Friend of the Crown – Donald Martin), produced by Mantra Tbh, follows the work of long-time Lord-Lieutenant of the Western Isles, Donald Martin, in his last six months in the position.

In this historic royal year, marking the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Donald hands over the reins after 25 years to new incumbent Iain Macaulay.

Travelling across the Outer Hebrides, with Donald’s role encompassing the whole of the Western Isles, from Barra to Lewis and everywhere in between, he has many unique experiences to reflect upon from his time in post – and some paraphernalia to sift through.

Donald also passes on some sage royal advice, including how to properly address the Queen: ‘Ma’am, as in jam’.

Taking a look behind the scenes, the responsibilities and opportunities which come with being the Queen’s representative to the islanders are revealed.

The Western Isles is just one of 98 areas across the UK which have such a role.

Donald (right) hands over the Lord Lieutenant ‘bible’ to Iain. NO F26 Donald Martin 02
Donald (right) hands over the Lord Lieutenant ‘bible’ to Iain.
NO F26 Donald Martin 02

 

From organising royal visits and conducting presentations to performing ceremonies and welcoming dignitaries, a Lord Lieutenant’s work is now largely ceremonial.

However, the highly-unique public position does have ties to the military and the judiciary system and remnants of these ties do remain in the form of the regalia sometimes donned by Donald, Iain and their peers.

Though not worn for all ceremonies, the uniform is very much part of Remembrance commemorations – an emotional time for islanders.

Lord-Lieutenants receive support from their deputies, but, ultimately, the buck stops with them as ‘Friends of the Crown’ to provide dedicated service and support.

Lord-Lieutenant of Fife Robert Balfour explains the role well in the documentary.

He said: ‘The Lord-Lieutenant and the Lieutenancy are the eyes and ears of the Royal Family.

‘Of the 98 Lord-Lieutenants in the whole of the United Kingdom, 35 of them are in Scotland.

‘In the four cities – Dundee, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow – the Lord Provost is automatically the Lord-Lieutenant.

‘Often you’ll see the Lord-Lieutenant of Edinburgh greeting a member of the Royal Family at Holyrood or, in the case of the Princess Royal, at Murrayfield for a rugby match.

‘The rest of us go back to the old counties. We’ve got some very small ones, Fife is one of the bigger ones, but there is a big variety.

‘Originally, the Lord-Lieutenant had a military role and it also had a judicial role…until the early 20th century the Lord-Lieutenant and his deputies, because everybody had to have had military service, were responsible for the militia and the territorials.

‘That’s why the uniform is a military uniform.’

In the documentary, Donald presents Kenny Mackay with an MBE in recognition of his 30-year struggle to have a public road laid to his remote village of Rhenigidale, on the Isle of Harris.

Donald (left) presents Kenny with his letter from the Queen. NO F26 Donald Martin 03
Donald, left, presents Kenny with his letter from the Queen.
NO F26 Donald Martin 03

A copy of his book – Rhenigidale – A Community’s Fight for Survival – was received by the Queen and, in exchange, Donald presented Kenny with a letter from Her Majesty saying how much she enjoyed the book.

The programme also shows a number of platinum jubilee events, including local newspaper Loch a Tuath News receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, a resident receiving a 100th birthday card and a number of garden parties and community celebrations, as well as the lighting of a beacon.

At its heart, however, Cara a’ Chrùin – Domhnall Martainn is about a sense of duty and an emotionally-charged changing of the guard between two islanders and ‘Friends of the Crown’.

Cara a’ Chrùin – Domhnall Martainn aired on BBC ALBA earlier this week  and is available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days afterwards.

CAPTION:

The programme follows the work of long-time Lord-Lieutenant of the Western Isles, Donald Martin, pictured, in his last six months in the position. NO F26 Donald Martin

 

Extra pics:

Donald, right, hands over the Lord-Lieutenant ‘bible’ to Iain. NO F26 Donald Martin 02

Donald, left, presents Kenny with his letter from the Queen.
NO F26 Donald Martin 03