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In the United Kingdom the Great Officers of State are traditional ministers of The Crown who either inherit their positions or are appointed to exercise certain largely ceremonial functions or to operate as members of the government. Separate Great Officers of State exist for England and for Scotland, and formerly for Ireland. Many of the Great Officers became largely ceremonial because historically they were so influential that their powers had to be resumed by the Crown or dissipated.
Government in all the medieval monarchies generally comprised the king's companions, later becoming the Royal Household, from which the officers of state arose, initially having household and government duties. Later some of these officers split into two, in the Great Officer of the State and in the Royal Household, or were superseded by new officers or absorbed by existing officers. Many of the officers became hereditary and thus removed from practical operation of either the state or the household.

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