The Queen Approved Sarah Clarke’s Appointment as the First Ever Female Black Rod

    Photo by Foreign and Commonwealth Office

    Today, the Queen has approved the appointment of Sarah Clarke as the first-ever female Black Rod in the 650-year history of the role.

    Sarah Clarke is a senior official in the House of Lords. She will start her role as Lady Usher of the Black Rod in 2018, following in the footsteps of David Leakey, the current holder of the role.

    The Black Rod is responsible for managing the state opening of the parliament and other events of the state. The moment in the spotlight of the role comes annually when the incumbent summons members of the House of Commons to the House of Lords listen to the Speech of the Queen, banging three times with the rod on the door to the Commons after it is slammed ceremonially in their face as a symbol of the independence of the chamber.

    The appointment of Clarke marks another break with tradition as the previous Black Rods have come from a military background. However, Clarke has spent years in the sports sector of the United Kingdom.

    Sarah Clarke was previously a championships director at the All England Lawn Tennis Club where she was responsible for the organisation of Wimbledon. She has also held roles at four Olympic Games, UK Sport, and the London Marathon.