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Originally he was the chief officer in the daily management of the Duchy of Lancaster (a former county palatine merged into the Crown in 1399), but that estate is now run by a deputy, leaving the position of Chancellor to serve in effect as an alternative Minister without Portfolio. The position has often been given to a junior Cabinet minister with responsibilities in a particular area of policy for which there is no department with an appropriate portfolio. Since 1491 there has been a Vice Chancellor. He is now the Chancery Division Judge in the north-west, and no longer appointed to that position as legal officer of the Duchy.

The current Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is Francis Pym.

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