Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ms Black Rod

If you have been paying attention here, you heard about Black Rod earlier this year. Now, it seems, that for the first time in 650 years, a woman will serve as Black Rod. (Trivia nearly guaranteed not to show up on THE exam.)

Sarah Clarke is first female Black Rod in 650 years
Black Rod - a Parliamentary role that can trace its origins back 650 years - is to be a woman for the first time.

Sarah Clarke is currently in charge of organising the Wimbledon tennis championships.

She will be known as The Lady Usher of the Black Rod when she starts her new job early next year.
The Lady Usher of the Black Rod

Black Rod is best known for the State Opening of Parliament, knocking on the door of the House of Commons to summon MPs for the Queen's Speech.

As well as organising ceremonial events, Black Rod, who can earn up to £93,000 a year, manages a team of 30 staff involved in the day-to-day running of the House of Lords…

[Clarke] said the House of Lords was "a place where the smallest detail is as important as the big picture and the depth of heritage and tradition is second to none," adding: "I am truly looking forward to starting work."

Lord Fowler, who as the Speaker of the House of Lords advised the Queen on the appointment, said it was an "historic moment".

He said Black Rod played an important role behind the scenes "in organising addresses to Parliament by visiting heads of state and other state events, as well as ensuring we have appropriate plans in place to keep the important work of the Lords going in a crisis".

He added: "Sarah's fantastic record at Wimbledon and elsewhere shows she is the right person for the task."

Black Rod summons MPs to the Lords to hear the Queen's Speech but has the door to the House of Commons slammed in his face, and has to knock three times to gain entry.

He is the monarch's representative in the House of Lords and the routine is symbolic of the House of Commons' independence from the Crown…

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