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Cheers in Parliament as Black Rod takes her place in the House of Lords for the first time

The new Lady Usher of the Black Rod, Sarah Clarke, has taken her place in the House of Lords for the first time.

Miss Clarke, who is the first woman to hold the position of Black Rod, began her first day on the job this Tuesday following the end of Parliament’s February recess.

There were cheers from the Lords as Black Rod was introduced to the chamber for the first time.

Miss Clarke is the first woman to hold the post of Black Rod in the House of Lords in the 650-year history of the role.

Did you know?

Of the five current Ushers of Rods, the majority are women?
Black Rod: Miss Sarah Clarke
Green Rod: Rear Admiral Kit Layman
Scarlet Rod: Major General Charles Vyvyan
Blue Rod: Dame DeAnne Julius
Purple Rod: Dame Amelia Chilcott Fawcett

Her appointment has been well received by peers, including Baroness Anita Gale, who tweeted: “Today in the House of Lords we saw the first woman Black Rod in the history of Parliament welcomed in the Chamber.

“Her appointment has been so well received. So pleased I was there to witness it.”

Black Rod is tasked with leading ceremonial aspects of Parliament, including the State Opening.

Other key responsibilities that she undertakes on a daily basis includes the organisation and coordination of events in Parliament, ensuring they all run smoothly.

She is also in charge of security at the Palace of Westminster, deals with the media and chairs the Business Resilience Group which ensures both Houses of Parliament have resilience arrangements for emergencies such as flooding, fire and other incidents.

Sarah Clarke replaced Lieutenant General David Leakey who retired from the role earlier this year.

She was previously the Championships Director at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, where she was in charge of organising and managing Wimbledon.

The newly-appointed official had also held roles at four Olympic Games, the London Marathon and UK Sport.  

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