Many thousands of mourners have gathered in London, Windsor, and other royal locations throughout the UK today to see Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
2,000 people, including members of the royal family Prince George and Princess Charlotte, will assemble at Westminster Abbey on Monday morning to honour the late king before a committal service at Windsor Castle.
Following the Queen’s lying-in-state ceremony at Westminster Hall, which ended this morning, thousands of people stood in line for more than 10 hours to pay their respects.
Black Rod Sarah Clarke and members of the legislative staff were the last individuals to pass by the coffin during the process, which has seen a torrent of people snake up the Thames around the clock.
In an emotional scene this morning, the representative walked gravely past the coffin of Her Majesty before pausing, bowing, and appearing to wipe away a tear as she turned to leave.
What is the Black Rod?
The Lady Usher of the Black Rod or the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, depending on gender, are the official titles of the Black Rod.
They are a senior member of the House of Lords who is in charge of managing access to and preserving order in the building and its grounds.
The Black Rod answers to the Clerk of the Parliaments, the House of Lords’ chief executive who oversees all other services provided to Lords members.
Who is Sarah Clarke Black Rod?
For the first time in the 650-year history of the Black Rod, Sarah Clarke OBE has held the role since early 2018.
Ms. is also the first woman to hold the positions of Secretary to the Lord Great Chamberlain, Serjeant-at-Arms for the House of Lords, and Officer of the Order of the Garter.
She served as the Wimbledon Championships’ administrative director prior to assuming her current position. She was the first woman to work in this position and direct a Grand Slam tournament.
On February 17, 2017, Ms. Clarke was named the next Black Rod, succeeding Lieutenant General David Leakey who had resigned.
In February 2018, she formally assumed her role as Lady Usher of the Black Rod.
What does the Black Rod do?
Both ceremonial and administrative tasks are included in the Black Rod’s role in Parliament.
They are in charge of a division that is crucial to the smooth operation of the House of Lords’ sessions on a daily basis and contributes significantly to the “front of house” service provided by the administration to members and the general public.
The Lady Usher of the Black Rod is responsible for regulating access to and upholding order in the House of Lords. The Crown has appointed someone to this job.
The Lord Great Chamberlain’s secretary is The Black Rod. The Lord Great Chamberlain appoints someone to this role, which entails participation in and oversight of all significant ceremonial events held at the Palace of Westminster.
This includes managing the daily operations of the King’s residual estate in the Palace of Westminster, which includes the Chapel of St. Mary Undercroft, the Robing Room, and the Royal Gallery, as well as the planning and execution of ceremonial events like State Opening and state visits to Westminster.
One of the most well-known pictures of Parliament is the Black Rod’s function at the State Opening of Parliament.
To signify the independence of the Commons, the Commons door is typically slammed in the Black Rod’s face as they are despatched from the Lords Chamber to the Commons Chamber to summon MPs to hear the Queen’s Speech.
Then, using the rod, he or she strikes the door three times. All of the MPs then follow Black Rod back to the Lords to hear the Queen’s Speech as the door to the Commons Chamber is opened.