The Lord Lyon King of Arms holds his office of “King of His Most Excellent Majesty’s Armies” as an immediate fief of the Crown, and as one of the Officers of State. These were formerly classed in two categories: “ Officers of the Crown” and “ Officers of the Kingdom”. The Lord Lyon has the specialty of being both an Officer of the Crown and of the Kingdom, and it has been said of the Lord Lyon “ No Herald in Europe exercised such powers of jurisdiction, was vested with such high dignity, or possessed so high a rank. In his armorial jurisdiction, Lyon stands in the place of the King.” The Lord Lyon is one of the five high officers who are virtute officii the King’s Lieutenants. In the 15th and 16th centuries he was also virtute officii a Privy Councillor, and as the French Juge d’Armes was , and Lyon still remains in matters armorial, genealogical, and ceremonial Conseiller du Roi and this he has continued to be to the present day.
From this, the Lord Lyon, like the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, derives the prefix “ Right Honorable”, which has been borne since 1554, “whilst his person is so sacred that to strike or deforce him is high treason” .According to Scottish custom, he was invariably knighted on appointment and before his State coronation. The Lord Lyon is now knighted at Holyrood House on appointment, when the sovereign invests him in office by delivery of the ancient Lyon Baton. The title “Lord Lyon” indicating a member of the Scottish government appears as early as the 16th century. The title was not formally recognized in Parliament until 1663 and ratified in the Scottish Paliament in 1672. Much of the Lord Lyon’s peculiar importance in Scotland is due to his incorporating the pre-heraldic Celtic office of High Sennachie ( bard ) of the Royal line of Scotland, and in this capacity, as guardian and preserver of the Royal pedigree and family records, his signature was required at the coronation of each Scottish King. He was also required to proclaim the Kings ancestors going back at least seven generations at the coronation proceedings. The Lord Lyon’s other duties included jurisdiction in questions of name changes in Scotland, decisions on questions of family representation and disputes over chiefships of nobility and chiefship of names and coats of arms. The Lyon court, presided over by the Lord Lyon, can adjudicate upon chiefship of clans and award Arms and execute royal proclamations, baptisms and related public ceremonies. The Lord Lyon is also, as controller of Her Majesty’s Messengers at Arms, the head of the whole executive department of the Law of Scotland.