Elizabeth II appoints first woman for parliamentary job
London, Nov 18 (IANS) UK’s Queen Elizabeth II has approved the appointment of Sarah Clarke as the new Black Rod in the House of Lords, a job previously held by 60 men since the post was created in 1361.
Clarke will be known as The Lady Usher of the Black Rod when she will formally take on the duties early next year, succeeding David Leakey, the current Black Rod who leaves the post at the end of this year, an official statement said following the approval on Friday.
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, reports the BBC.
According to tradition, as a way to protect its independence, the MPs slam the door in the face of the Black Rod. The ceremonial ritual is captured on the live coverage of the opening ceremony.
As well as organising ceremonial events, Black Rod, who can earn up to 93,000 pounds a year, manages a team of 30 staff involved in the day-to-day running of the House of Lords.
Clarke is currently responsible for the organisation of the annual Wimbledon tennis championships. She had previously held roles at four Olympic Games, the London Marathon and UK Sport, reports Xinhua news agency.
Black Rod is appointed by the Monarch on the recommendation of a selection panel chaired by the Lord Speaker.
Clarke said: “I am both deeply honoured and delighted to be invited to take up the role of Black Rod.
“Over many years I have been fortunate to work at the heart of some of the world’s most complex events and institutions. The House of Lords is a place where the smallest detail is as important as the big picture and the depth of heritage and tradition is second to none.”
Lord Fowler, speaker of the House of Lords said: “As the first woman to take on the role, this is a historic moment for the House.”