On April 25, 2020, as part of the East Kingdom Officer Schola online event, Master Malcolm Bowman led a session reviewing the role of two kingdom-level heraldic positions he holds, including that of Eastern Crown Herald.
I am attaching my notes from this session below in hopes that they might be of interest to other members of the community, but please be aware that this is not an official transcript and may contain errors or omit relevant details.
The Eastern Crown Herald is the East’s royal court herald, sometimes styled “Vox Regis,” or voice of the crown.
Court heraldry is fun — you’re part of the show, and everyone learns who you are — but it can also be nerve-wracking, with moments of stage fright.
Heralding court is like a theatrical performance, except you’re simultaneously a director, producer, stage manager, and actor.
Preparing The Docket for Royal Court
In the East, you typically receive a prepared court docket in advance from the Signet’s office with the list of awards, and text from the recommendation letter for each person.
Brigantia is then responsible for rearranging that raw docket to build a working docket with all of the scheduled court business in order.
Sequence things to keep things interesting — not just monotonically rising from least important to most-important.
Bring three copies of the docket to the event: one for the primary herald, one for “chancery assistant” who is handling the scrolls, and one for the silent deputy to review so they can prepare for whatever’s coming next.
Prepare the box of cards with background information about the award recipients to give to the royals.
Before Court Begins
During the day of the event, check off on the docket that everyone receiving an award is actually present.
Figure out if there will be any last-minute additions to the agenda. Sometimes, as the herald, you have to say no, we don’t have time in today’s court for that. (For example, in other kingdoms, people take apprentices/proteges in royal court, but we generally don’t have time for this.)
Brigantia carries a tackle box full of “bling,” consisting of medallions and various kinds of tokens for all of the awards.
Scrolls arrive from various sources, some in advance from the scribes, others brought to the event by the royals, and sometimes a few delivered at the last minute.
Set aside 30-60 minutes before court for the royals to sign all of the scrolls.
Some scrolls also need Brigantia’s signature, or Eastern Crown can do that as Brigantia’s deputy.
Use Post-its to label the scrolls in order, and put them all into a big scroll holder.
Separate the cut sheets so you don’t have to fumble with them during court.
If there is no scroll available, assemble a basic scroll text by plugging details from the recommendation text into Mistress Alys’s mad-lib basic scroll text.
Running Royal Court
Immediately before court begins, organize the royal party into processional order:
- Herald (and assistants)
- The sword of state, and champions
- Their Majesties (sometimes accompanied by one personal retainer)
- The Consort’s guard
- Their Highnesses
- Retinue — royal retainers, members of their household, etc.
Figuring out precedence for large events with lots of visiting royals and local barons can be challenging.
The court herald is responsible for managing the timing for cheers so that people don’t get out of synch.
You can put together a team of other people to read some of the scrolls to give your voice a rest.
The chancery assistant manages the scrolls, handing those off to the crown, so that the person reading the scroll text from the cut sheet doesn’t have to deal with them.
In East, we don’t have formal written ceremonies for most court business, so you can ad-lib or mix-and-match elements as seems appropriate to the event and the people involved.
There are established protocols for major events like peerages, but those also have exceptions; for example, if the recipient is already a peer, we often don’t do a second vigil.
There’s an interesting challenge in figuring out what you should say when something unexpected happens; coming up with interstitial material to keep court flowing and then bring it back to the docket agenda.
At the end of court, lead the royal party out. In the last five years, we’ve added a recessional cheer: “Long live the king and queen! Long live the prince and princess! Long live the people of the East!”
Working with Silent Heralds
If a silent herald is available for your court, that’s great.
Give the silent herald a copy of your docket in advance so they can prepare.
Some silent heralds aren’t super fluent in ASL, but even if they just manage the highlights of who’s being given what award, it’s still helpful.
Make sure to gesture for the vivats so that people who can’t hear your voice cue can still join in.
Having correct information in the Order of Precedence is important both for knowing what honors someone has already earned and for knowing who to recommend for additional awards.
After court you can perform a “scroll reconciliation,” in which you use information from the scroll cut sheets to make sure the court report is complete.
In addition to Shepherd’s Crook, Kingdom reports also go to the Pikestaff and the Gazette.
Be delicate when reporting on awards that weren’t delivered to the recipient; if you hand an award to their baronage to deliver later, you should include it in the report so it makes it into the OP, and hope that the recipient doesn’t see that news before they receive it themselves.
Question: When filing a court report, should I include non-precedence items?
These can be omitted from your report to Shepherd’s Crook, but it is good to put together an informal report for local consumption that includes this information.
Writing unofficial reports in narrative form is fun, but it is a lot of work.
Alternately, you can include non-OP business at the foot of the court report form.
Kingdom-level champions should get reported into the OP. Baronial champions should get tracked at baronial level.
Question: If a scroll is not issued at an event, who’s responsible for making sure it gets created and delivered?
At the kingdom level, write “scroll forthcoming” on the court report, so that the Signet, or their backlog deputy, knows it needs to be taken care of.
At the baronial level, the baronage or herald should make sure this gets done.
Question: The court-report form has a space for calligraphy/illumination, but how do I report this information for scrolls that are pending or handed out late?
It might be useful to the Signet’s office if you reported this to them for their records, but this isn’t really the herald’s responsibility.
Question: At an event where Eastern Crown Herald / Vox Regis is handling court, is the Brigantia Herald still kept in the loop for awards?
They should be kept in the loop, but sometimes things are added or changed on the day of the event and that news doesn’t get to Brigantia.