THE Duke of Norfolk won't be busy during the Jubilee. The job of Earl Marshal, which has gone with the title of Duke of Norfolk since 1483, is concerned only with great State occasions, and the Jubilee celebrations are a household affair organised by the Lord Chamberlain.
His job as Earl Marshal was originally to command the armies on the battlefield and to supervise the College of Heralds, the precursor of the Foreign Office.
"Nowadays," he says, "My jobs amount to the Coronation, the State Opening of Parliament and the Prince of Wales' Investiture.
"I would do the marriage of the Sovereign, but there is some confusion as to who will do the marriage of the Prince of Wales, for example."
So far he had to do the State Opening of Parliament.
"It's a difficult job to do in one way. It's got so detailed now. Where people walk and how they go and who goes behind who. All sorts of little precedents have been established over the years."
The Duke is 62. Thirty years of soldiering have left more than a mark on him. He is boisterous and friendly, and very blunt.
"Leading Catholic layman" is a role that has been thrust upon him rather than accepted with relish, but he does not accept the position as a nominal title. _ He sits on numerous committees of Church affairs and his effect on them has been, according to many sources, the proverbial "dose of salts."
It just happens that of the lay Catholics in England he happens to he the most senior since he is the senior duke.
Inevitably he is asked to be patron of this, that and the other, and president of societies, and has been told by his family that he has accepted far too much.
"But I'm a committed Catholic and I think one should help the Church, so when you see a wonderful man like Cardinal Hume you feel just idle compared to what he's doing."
The Duke also believes that the Catholic peers should give a lead in the House of Lords on issues such as euthanasia and abortion, and should encourage religious education in schools.
The implications of growing union between the Catholic and Anglican Churches present no
The Queenis i Presbyterian when she is in Scotland: she's Church of England when she's in England, and so on.
Prince Philip came to Westminster Cathedral and helped open the concert at the Cathedral in February last year.
The Duke is enthusiastic for ecumenical progress. "Nobody could be more keen than 1 am in seeing the Churches come together, but we've got to go carefully. It's got to come more from the spirit than from just the outward signs. I welcome it all."
It is most refreshing to have this active Major General around, and long may it be before he retires to his estate in Yorkshire.