Among the many duties of the Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, as The Queen’s representative here, is to organise, oversee and try to ensure the smooth running of all Royal visits. He is the first to greet the Royal visitors and the last to say farewell.

Since becoming the Island’s Lord Lieutenant in October 2006, Major General Martin White has been responsible for around 25 such visits, including that of The Queen in 2012 as part of Her Diamond Jubilee tour of the nation.

Thankfully for Martin, Royal trips to the Island invariably go without a hitch – perhaps what you would expect from a man with 35 years’ military experience to fall back on. But the visits have their lighter moments, as he revealed when I caught up with him at his home in Seaview.

Reflecting on Her Majesty’s most recent visit, he said: “The Queen decided in Her Diamond Jubilee year to see as much of Her Kingdom as she could. It was decided the Regional Tour should be hosted by the Lord Lieutenants, and I was asked to suggest a suitable programme for The Queen to come here. We put in a joint proposal with Hampshire, hoping it would strengthen both cases, and 18 months later we heard we had got it.

“My idea for the bid was to focus on maritime, youth and volunteering. So The Queen walked along Cowes Parade, next to the sea; the youth of Cowes Primary School sung Her a specially written song, She opened the new inshore lifeboat station and met volunteer lifeboat crews and She then visited Cowes Yacht Haven by sea, which was filled with maritime volunteer groups.”

Everything was timed to perfection, and went according to plan, until the Royal entourage was about to head to Somerton Farm to meet the helicopter to take The Queen to the South of England Show. Martin said: “When we had finished at the Yacht Haven we were just a few minutes early, and when we reached a junction in Cowes, the cars should have turned left, but went right.

“I was two cars behind The Queen’s car, and I feared we would all end up in a cul de sac at the back of an industrial estate in Cowes, and I would end up in the Tower!  Thankfully I was informed the Royal cars were just killing time, and as we arrived at Somerton Farm for the departure, the helicopter was just about to land.

“David Biles had all his friends and family there, sitting in chairs, but he had recently cut his field. So as the helicopter landed there was grass being blown everywhere. Thankfully the Queen was still in her car, but saw it all, and was most amused. ”

There was also the time this summer when the Princess Royal was nearly left high and not so dry, when Martin organised a launch to take her back from Corf Scout Camp on Newtown Creek to Cowes following an opening ceremony.

Princess Ann was running slightly late, and as the tide rapidly ebbed the boat just managed to find enough water to scrape through the mud to deliver HRH safely. Another few minutes and the Princess Royal might have found herself wading knee deep in mud to embark!

Martin was born and brought up in Seaview, attending Ryde School, Nettlestone Primary School, and Sandown Grammar School, what is now Sandown Bay Academy. While serving in the Army for 35 years, he always maintained close links with the Island.

He is one of 98 Lord Lieutenants nationwide, and it is an honorary position he will hold until he reaches his 75th birthday, when he must retire. The office’s creation dates from Tudor times when Lord-Lieutenants were first appointed to a number of English historic counties by Henry VIII to control the increasing power of the High Sheriff, not a role he has to exercise so much now!

Before becoming Lord Lieutenant, Martin spent five years as Vice Lord-Lieutenant to his predecessor Christopher Bland, giving him time to generally know what was involved. But he said: “What I was not prepared for was my very much increased commitment to all aspects of the community, and what a privilege it is to do the job. I don’t think we were fully prepared for that.

“The Cabinet Office rang me and said they proposed to put my name to The Queen to become the Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, and I had 24 hours to think about it. You then have to think ‘of course it is a huge honour and privilege; of course I would love to do it, but I have my wife Fiona, four children and 13 grandchildren , plus I have a range of other interests to consider’.

“In one way it was a case of ‘I didn’t expect this’ but on the other hand I felt ‘I have a number of years when I can contribute to the Island where I was born and brought up’. So they were mixed emotions. For the first year or two I was juggling things to get into a rhythm. I now have a rhythm, albeit a very busy one.”

Royal visits are planned well in advance, with members of the Royal family hopefully already pencilled in for Spring and Summer of next year. Martin said: “I cannot reveal who at the moment, but they are popular and regular visitors and they will be good news for the Island.

“I have a philosophy about Royal visits in that we have so much to be proud of on this Island. One way of showing it off is to invite members of the Royal family down to see a wide and varied cross-section of our community. I believe that the Island needs to set the agenda for visits so the vast majority of venues and engagements are suggested by us.”

Martin puts his plan into motion by contacting Buckingham Palace. He said: “I think I know enough about the Island to target Royal visits to places for the benefit of Islanders and the Island and of course he is not short of suggestions! It is quite time consuming, but you get to know what works and what might not work. Royal visits  can be six to 12 months in the making.”  Martin is supported in this work and everything he does by an experienced and knowledgeable part time Clerk to the Lieutenancy, Gillian Phenix.

Other duties as The Queens representative include encouraging nominations for Honours and since last year, presenting British Empire Medals, and sometimes other awards such as MBEs.

He is also responsible  for encouraging nominations for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service; the Queen’s Award for Business Enterprise; presents the awards, and is presently the Vice Chair of the Advisory Committee on Magistrates in Hampshire and on the Island, which embraces recommending the appointment of new Magistrates. Each year between 30 and 40 Island couples are invited to garden parties at Buckingham Palace, and a further duty is to recommend to the Lord Chancellor who should attend.

Martin has 16 very hard working Deputy Lieutenants, who cover a range of responsibilities to help and influence in certain areas. He reflected: “In a way the Lieutenancy is like the Royal Family.. If it had not changed to reflect modern society, then it could have become irrelevant.

“I feel the Monarchy, and particularly the younger members have changed to reflect the modern world. The Queen as head of the Family, and of course The Duke of Edinburgh, have changed, and remarkably so. There are not many ladies and gentlemen in their 80s and 90s who would have made that change and become so in tune with the youth, and what is going on in the world.  I think it is amazing, and it is a great privilege in a very small way to be part of it.”