Chatham House was granted its Royal Charter by His Majesty King George V in 1926, and the governance structure serves as a guarantee of its independence and impartiality.

The reigning sovereign serves as Patron of the institute - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been Patron since her accession to the throne in 1952. She confers on Chatham House the benefit of her formal support through the institute's Royal Charter, although she has no official governance responsibilities.

Three Presidents are chosen from senior political figures. They have no governance responsibilities, but assist the institute in a number of important ways at a senior institutional and representational level.