The role of Lord Lieutenant is a historic and honourable role originating during the reign of Henry VIII. The fundamental principle concerning the office of the Lord Lieutenant is that he/she is Her Majesty’s representative in the county and consequently it is their duty to uphold the dignity of the Crown.   Following the example of Her Majesty The Queen, they seek to promote a spirit of co-operation and good atmosphere through the time given to voluntary and benevolent organisations and by the interest taken in the industrial and social life of the county.

Some of the main duties of the Lord Lieutenant include hosting visits by members of the Royal Family to the county, presentation of awards and medals, representing Her Majesty the Queen at events in the county, Supporting the uniformed emergency services and cadets and promoting civic, commerce, heritage, the arts, education and sport.

The current Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire is James Saunders Watson who took on the role in March 2020. James was born in 1961 in Gloucester and spent his early years in Hampshire, Dartmouth and Bermuda, before moving to Rockingham Castle in 1971 when his father inherited the Estate from his Great Uncle.

James has had a varied career primarily in the asset management industry with Fleming Investment Management and latterly JPMorgan Asset Management.  He is currently a partner in Warhorse Partners, a brand, communications and marketing consultancy. Prior to his City career he served ten years in the Royal Navy as a Seaman  Officer.

In 1999 James, Lizzie and their children moved to Rockingham Castle.  Together they manage the Estate, which includes a portfolio of agricultural, commercial and residential property, an arable farming operation and the visitor attraction associated with Castle and its Park, including events such as the Rockingham International Horse Trials.

James is a Board member of Historic Houses, a Trustee of the Country Land and Business Association Pension Fund and a Council Member and Trustee of The White Ensign Association.  He is also a trustee of Royal Navy Rugby Union and The Teamwork Trust. He has previously been a Director of the Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership and chaired both the Corby and North Northamptonshire Landowner Groups. For 15 years he was a Council Member of Seafarers UK and chairman of the Finance and Investment Committee. He is also on the Court of the Worshipful Company of Founders, which helps him to maintain links with the City.

James was High Sheriff for Northamptonshire from April 2018 - April 2019.

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