The first ever female Black Rod has just been appointed

Emma Haslett
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The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod sta
Black Rod usually hails from a military background (Source: Getty)

The Queen has today approved Sarah Clarke as the first female Black Rod in the role's 650-year history.

Clarke, a senior official in the House of Lords, will begin her role as Lady Usher of the Black Rod next year, following in the footsteps of current holder of the role David Leakey.

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

Clarke will begin her role at the beginning of next year (Source: Twitter / House of Lords)

Clarke's appointment marks another break with tradition: previous Black Rods have come from a military background, but Clarke has spent years in the UK's sport sector.

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

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