The Hand of the King or Hand of the Queen, in cases of a ruling female monarch, or simply the King's Hand or Queen's Hand is the most powerful appointed position in the Seven Kingdoms, second only to the King in authority and responsibility. The Hand is the King's closest advisor, appointed and authorized to make decisions on behalf of the King's name. The Hand of the King is the highest-ranking member of the Small Council, and leads meetings of the council as proxy for the king when the monarch is absent.
A hand is often used as the symbol of the Hand of the King, such as on the wax seals of letters. Hands of the King often wear a badge of office shaped like a hand, such as a brooch or a gold necklace with a repeated hand design.
During the reign of strong and able kings, the Hand is the chief agent for coordinating and carrying out the king's plans. During the reign of weak or ineffectual kings, the Hand is often the real power behind the throne, and the man chiefly responsible for holding the realm together. Such was the case when Lord Tywin Lannister ably served as Hand of the King for twenty years while King Aerys II Targaryen spiraled into insanity, or when Lord Jon Arryn served as Hand of the King for seventeen years under King Robert Baratheon, who while an able soldier was not an able politician or statesman.
The Hand of the King is formally addressed as Lord Hand or Lady Hand should a woman one day be named and resides in the Tower of the Hand at the Red Keep along with his or her family and household.