Throughout the years, there have been many Prime Minister lecterns that all provide a different look and feel. Many people notice the lectern has changed, but don’t understand why or how! So, how many Prime Minister lecterns have there been?
There have been five Prime Minister lecterns since Tony Blair was in power, with the new rise of custom-made lecterns for each Prime Minister starting with David Cameron. Before Tony Blair, Prime Ministers mostly didn’t use lecterns at all for their speeches, opting instead for a simple microphone stand.
Read on to find out more about the history of Downing Street lecterns and what each Prime Minister’s lectern represents.
How Many Downing Street Lecterns Have There Been?
Throughout the years, there has been a wide variety of looks and styles of prime minister lecterns. In the 1900s, Prime Ministers used a mixture of lecterns that weren’t specific to any person. These were interchangeable, and would often change depending on where they were giving the speech.
In terms of custom or personalised lecterns, there have been four custom-made lecterns, starting with David Cameron. Rishi Sunak is the first Prime Minister to not create a custom-made lectern, presumably because he didn’t have time after taking over from Liz Truss. Controversy over the cost of Liz Truss’s ‘jenga’ lectern could have also been an influence.
Why Does Every Prime Minister Have a Different Lectern?
The intent behind creating a personalised lectern for each Prime Minister is to provide a sense of what they’re all about. For example, a very minimalist and sturdy lectern could show that the Prime Minister isn’t interested in ‘flair’ and wants to create a structured and strong government.
This can give greater strength behind their speeches, and allow them to deliver them authentically in a style that is their own.
Image source: The Telegraph
What Are the Different Prime Minister Lecterns?
With the recent trend of creating a personalised Prime Minister lectern, there are many interpretations of what they mean. Here we’ll break down the history of Prime Minister lecterns and what they could represent.
Rishi Sunak Lectern
Rishi Sunak is the first Prime Minister since David Cameron to not create his own custom lectern. This is mainly because he took over from Liz Truss via the Conservative Party election, and therefore had a limited amount of time when compared to a Prime Minister who was elected via normal channels. Sunak uses a lectern from a previous administration, which at the time cost £3,050.
However, since then, Rishi Sunak still hasn’t created his own lectern, which could be a result of public backlash at the cost of Liz Truss’s lectern. This could be a tactic to show that he is uninterested in this sort of thing, and would rather focus on governing the country.
Liz Truss Jenga Lectern
Liz Truss’s lectern was actually two lecterns. One was paid for by the government for public addresses in Downing Street, while the other was paid for by the Conservative Party used in CCHQ (Conservative Campaign Headquarters) speeches such as party leadership elections.
The design features a pillar of blocks wrapped around in a spiral and was dubbed Liz Truss’ ‘jenga’ lectern by the media. The intricacy of the design meant that each lectern cost £4,175 to make, cementing it as the most expensive lectern to date. Given that Truss only used her government-funded lectern for two speeches, this is also the most expensive Prime Minister lectern per speech.
The extravagant lectern was controversial, given that the taxpayer paid for it, and was criticised by the opposition as a personalised item that cost the taxpayers money. This could have influenced Rishi Sunak in the decision to not create his own custom lectern.
Boris Johnson Lectern
Boris Johnson’s lectern featured a triangular stand with a stepped plinth at the base. It also featured a solid top with no bevel. This used a darker wood than any other Prime Minister lectern, and the thick stand gave the impression of a sturdier design than usual.
This could have represented Boris Johnson’s idea of a stronger Britain, with a sturdy base that isn’t reliant on outside forces.
Theresa May Lectern
Theresa May’s lectern was allegedly designed by Joint Downing Street Chief of Staff, Fiona Hill. This was created to look ‘feminine’ and push the idea of the first female Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher.
This Prime Minister lectern featured a simple square base with a thin square stand. Similarly to Boris Johnson’s lectern, the top was a smooth surface with no indent or overhanging edges.
David Cameron Lectern
David Cameron’s lectern was the first bespoke lectern for any of the past Prime Ministers. This was designed by his head of operations, Liz Sugg, and was intended to appear ”statesman-like”. It featured a curved square base, with a curved stand. The top was a simple square with curved edges to match the base. It had a glossy wood finish, providing an elegant, timeless look.
David Cameron’s lectern was also the first Prime Minister lectern to feature the royal coat of arms on the front.
Gordon Brown Lectern & Tony Blair Lectern
Before David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair both used the same lectern, a simple microphone stand with the type of wheels that you might get on an office desk. This was sometimes fitted with a small desk for holding notes during speeches.
This simple version of the modern Prime Minister lecterns provided a small sense of the Labor government of the time, with none of the frills and flair of the Conservative government that followed.
John Major Lectern & Previous Prime Ministers
John Major actually didn’t use a lectern when speaking outside of number 10 Downing Street, just as Margaret Thatcher before him. They were both seen using a simple microphone stand that stood directly on the ground.
Before this, Prime Ministers saw a mixture of speeches, the majority of which used no lectern at all.
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If you’re looking for the feel and quality of a Prime Minister’s lectern for your speech, business, or church, look no further than Nova Lecterns. Get in touch with a member of our friendly team for help making the perfect choice for you.