The purpose of this note is to offer guidance on matters of precedence and ceremonial issues where the High Sheriff is invited in his official capacity and where a member of the Royal Family will not be in attendance.  It is offered for the avoidance of concerns or any embarrassment in relation to ‘correct form’ and is intended to be reassuring and straightforward.

The Sovereigns Representative

The chief representative of the Sovereign in the county is the Lord-Lieutenant.  The High Sheriff, however, is also appointed by the Sovereign, normally for a period of one year; the year of Office usually commences in March or April.  He or she takes precedence within the county of Surrey over all but the Lord-Lieutenant (or a Deputy, if a Deputy Lieutenant attends in place of the Lord-Lieutenant).  The High Sheriff, however, cedes precedence as a matter of etiquette to the Mayor of a Borough or town in which an event is taking place.

How to address the High Sheriff

The current High Sheriff is Timothy Wates and the correct mode of address when speaking directly to him is ‘High Sheriff’.  He may also be addressed by his name as an alternative.  When introducing the High Sheriff, he should be referred to by his full title, e.g., “We are delighted to have the High Sheriff, Timothy Wates, with us this evening”.  Timothy’s partner is Georgina Martin.

When a formal introduction or speech is made the Lord-Lieutenant again takes precedence, but when he or a Deputy is not present then the first person to refer to is the High Sheriff.

Arrival of the High Sheriff

The High Sheriff will endeavour to arrive precisely as requested.  It is good form to have someone there to greet him.  When the Lord-Lieutenant or a Deputy representing him is also invited, the High Sheriff will normally arrive before the Lord-Lieutenant or his representative.  Correct protocol dictates that the Lord-Lieutenant arrives last and leaves first.

Departure from event

The High Sheriff will leave when appropriate or formerly agreed, but not before the Lord-Lieutenant or hisrepresentative if one or other is present.  It would be normal for someone to escort the High Sheriff from the venue.

Press releases

The High Sheriff is happy for a press release to be offered by an organisation inviting him to an event, but no commercial attachment should be made of any kind, save perhaps for the name of a sponsor if the event is sponsored by a commercial organisation.

Event details

When the High Sheriff is invited to an event, his office will provide a checklist of information required (see attached Engagement Information), for details such as:

  • Time of arrival and anticipated departure
  • Venue and car parking arrangements
  • Indication of whether the Lord-Lieutenant or a Deputy will also be present
  • Indication of whether or not the High Sheriff’s partner is invited/expected at the event
  • Dress code
  • Meeting point and name of person to greet the High Sheriff
  • Bullet point brief if a speech or other activity is required
  • Emergency contact number (in case of a problem prior to arrival)