First female Black Rod appointed in House of Lords after 650 years

The first female Black Rod in the House of Lords in the 650-year history of the role has been approved by the Queen.

Sarah Clarke will formally take over the position when its current holder David Leakey steps down at the end of this year, and will be known as the Lady Usher of the Black Rod.

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Currently responsible for the organisation of the annual Wimbledon tournament as championships director at the All-England Lawn Tennis Club, Miss Clarke has previously held roles at four Olympic Games, the London Marathon and UK Sport.

Black Rod is the senior official responsible for maintaining order at the House of Lords, and is thrust into the spotlight each year at the State Opening of Parliament, when sent to bang on the door of the House of Commons to summon MPs to hear the Queen's Speech.