|Lord Protector of the|
Commonwealth of Great Britain and Ireland
Coat of arms of the Commonwealth
|Style||His Excellency the Right Honourable (formal)|
My Lord (spoken)
|Member of||Council of State|
|Term length||Life tenure|
|Inaugural holder||George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough|
|Formation||8 March 1789|
|Final holder||Lord Winston Churchill|
|Abolished||10 April 1933|
The Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of Great Britain and Ireland (Irish: Tiarna Leasrí an Chomhlathais na Breataine Móire agus na hÉireann; Scots: Tighearn Thàinistear 'Cho-fhlaitheis Bhreatainn agus Èirinn; Welsh: Arglwydd Rhyngwladol y Gymanwlad Prydain Fawr ac Iwerddon) was the head of state and highest ranking political authority in the Commonwealth of Great Britain and Ireland. The Lord Protectorship was established in 1789 after George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough seized power during the British Revolution, and was codified in the Constitution of 1806 which also officially abolished the British monarchy.
Previously, the title of Lord Protector had been used for regents who ruled on behalf of the Sovereign. However, after the establishment of the Commonwealth, the Lord Protectorship became a permanent constitutional post. According to the Constitution, the Lord Protector was leader of the executive government of the Commonwealth.
The Constitution also vested the Lord Protector with general command over the armed forces, and gave him wide, sweeping executive powers, such as veto power over legislation passed by the House of Commons. He was also empowered to appoint the Council of State of the Commonwealth — which became his cabinet — and other state officers, such as Justices of the Supreme Court and military commanders, subject to the approval of the Commons.
The Lord Protector was elected by the Electoral College, a body of peers and prominent officeholders in the British government convened to consider candidates nominated by the major political parties of the day. Lord Protectors held life appointments, meaning that they served until death, or until they resigned or retired. Lord Protectors could also be impeached by a two-thirds majority vote in the Commons and a majority vote among the justices of the Supreme Court.
In the history of the Commonwealth, 9 individuals served as Lord Protector. The last, Winston Churchill, was elected by the Electoral College in 1928 following the death of his predecessor, Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane. He was deposed in 1933 by the Fascists under Speaker Oswald Mosley, who merged the powers of the Lord Protector with those of the Speaker to create the position of Supreme Leader of Britannia. Following the dissolution of Britannia in 1946, the Presidency of England was formed, with far less power than the Lord Protector had. Churchill himself went on to become the first President, serving from 1949 to 1957.