This summer, Mike Kapur OBE, celebrates five extraordinary years in the role of Lord Lieutenant – the King’s official representative here in Leicestershire.
It’s a highly prestigious, historic role, dating back to 1549, and is different to other civic roles such as High Sheriff, Lord Mayor, and Chairman of the County Council in that it is for more than one year and is the only role authorised to represent The King.
Being Lord- Lieutenant has opened up so many amazing opportunities for Mr Kapur; the chance to meet hundreds of inspiring individuals across the county, present Medals and Awards, and to spend time with Royalty.
In a typical year, he is requested to carry out around 300 official engagements and activities – “a huge privilege” he says, “but a workload that couldn’t be done without support from my Deputy Lieutenants who stand in for me when I’m unavailable.”
“One great thing about being Lord Lieutenant, is you meet so many wonderful people who are doing all these great things. They actually give you such a lift. The heartwarming stories – the pride they take in telling you what they’ve done – that reflects back and gives you so much energy…In fact, I have more energy now than I did when I was 30!” he revealed.
Mike initially became Deputy Lieutenant in 2015 and was appointed as Lord Lieutenant in June 2018, thanks
to his highly personable character and reputation as a prominent and respected business leader within Leicestershire.
A chartered accountant by profession, he was born in Ludhiana, northern India, and moved to the UK with his family when he was very young.
The family settled in Derby, where his parents made a living by running two shoe stores.
He came to Leicester to study Accounting and Computing at the then Leicester Polytechnic, and went on to achieve great success in his career – something which resulted in him receiving an OBE for his services to science, technology, business and enterprise in 2017.
During our interview, Mike was keen to point out his relatively humble beginnings, and to stress that if he can become a Lord Lieutenant, anybody can.
“One of the things that I worry about is people’s perceptions. As Lord Lieutenant, in addition to a number of other high profile appointments, people might incorrectly conclude that seniority has always been a given, and assume that I was born with privileges that allowed me to get here,” he explained.
“Actually, I was born an ordinary person with the same background as the vast majority of people in our city and county, and I’m very keen to stress to everybody, look if I can become Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, any of them can too.
“I came from a typical immigrant family, who lived in a small premises above a shop. It doesn’t matter what starting point you have, it’s what you make of the opportunities that you’re given, and having an element of luck I suppose. They’re the only real ingredients for my achievements. ”
In his life, Mike has been driven by one simple goal; to make his parents proud. And he’s certainly achieved that.
The role of Lord Lieutenant is a huge honour, and one which comes with incredible responsibility. One of the
main duties, is arranging visits by members of the Royal family and escorting them throughout. Mr Kapur has had the pleasure of escorting prominent Royals, including King Charles & Queen Camilla, The Prince and Princess of Wales, The Princess Royal, The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, The Duke of Gloucester and Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Whilst he admits that arranging a Royal visit is hard work, he is always delighted for the organisation and people who will get to meet a member of the Royal family and create their own special Royal moment. “The number of Royal visits we’ve had in the last 5 years shows just how much they enjoy coming here – and that’s down to our great people.”
Asked about his favourite Royal encounter, Mr Kapur recalled meeting Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace shortly after he was appointed.
“There were only about six couples at the reception, so me and my wife actually ended up in quite detailed conversation with her,” he said.
“The next time I met Her Majesty, was at my first Royal garden party, where I was officially presented alongside all the other new Lord Lieutenants. We all lined up to greet her, and when the Lord Chamberlain informed her who I was, she waved him away. ‘I know who he is!” she said.
“I was delighted that she’d remembered me from our first encounter!”
Of course, during his time as Lord Lieutenant, Mike Kapur has been involved in some incredibly historic moments in British history; the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee last June, as well as her sad passing just a few months later.
On May 6, he was at Westminster Abbey again, but this time for a much more joyous occasion – the Coronation of King Charles III who he hopes will visit Leicestershire in the “very near future.”
“The King has told me that he really enjoys visiting Leicester, and it’s amongst my highest priorities to make that happen,” he revealed.
“I’m inundated with requests from organisations who would like a visit from the King, which shows how quickly people have embraced the transition from Queen to King.”
Asked to sum up his five years as Lord Lieutenant, Mike said it has “passed by like a whirlwind,” but that he has enjoyed every second. He is particularly pleased that he has been able to increase the number of national honours and awards local people, organisations, and businesses have received.
“I have 14-and-a-half years left of my appointment as Lord Lieutenant to go and I hope those years don’t go quite so fast!” he joked.
“It’s an amazing privilege and now I can’t actually think of a life without being in the role.
“It’s made me a better person, so I owe it a lot. The best way to repay that I think, is to keep trying to do it well and to ensure that local people, organisations and businesses continue to receive the rewards their endeavours deserve.”