Who is the Black Rod? All the State Opening of Parliament participants and why their role matters
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  • All you need to know about the participants for the State Opening of Parliament 

King Charles will lead the State Opening of Parliament for the first time on Tuesday November 7. 

Expected to pay tribute to his late mother in his speech, It will be the first time since 1950 – when George VI spoke amid Britain’s involvement in the Korean War – that a King has opened Parliament. 

So, who is the Black Rod and who else will be participating in the State Opening of Parliament?

Read on below for all you need to know about the different roles and responsibilities for the ceremony. 

Black Rod is the name given to the House of Lords official, who is sent to summon the Commons for the ceremony. The role has been held by Sarah Clarke (pictured) since February 2018, making her the first female Black Rod in the 650-year existence of the role.

Black Rod is the name given to the House of Lords official, who is sent to summon the Commons for the ceremony. The role has been held by Sarah Clarke (pictured) since February 2018, making her the first female Black Rod in the 650-year existence of the role.

Who is the Black Rod?

Black Rod is the name given to the House of Lords official, who is sent to summon the Commons for the ceremony. 

The role has been held by Sarah Clarke since February 2018, making her the first female Black Rod in the 650-year existence of the role. 

The doors to the Commons chamber will be shut in the king’s face, in a practice dating back to the Civil War, to symbolise the Commons’ independence from the monarchy. 

Black Rod will subsequently strike the door three times before it is opened. 

Members of the House of Commons will follow Black Rod and the Commons Speaker to the Lords chamber, standing at the opposite end to the throne, known as the Bar of the House, to listen to the speech, which is expected to begin after Charles is seated on the throne around 11:30am.

Who participates in the State Opening of Parliament?

King Charles 

As the King, it is Charles’ resposnbility to give the Monarch’s Speech – which is written by the Government – but will be delivered by him from the Throne in the House of Lords.

However, it is also expected to contain Charles’s personal words about his mother.

When Queen Elizabeth gave her first State Opening of Parliament speech in November 1952, she spoke of her late father’s ‘selfless devotion to his duties’. 

She had said it would be her ‘constant endeavour’ to follow that standard.

The Queen was following in the footsteps of King George V, who at the State Opening in 1911 spoke of the ‘grievous loss’ of his father Edward VII. 

Beyond any words about his mother, the King’s Speech will contain a summary of government policies and proposed legislation for the new parliamentary session.

When the Monarch leaves, a new parliamentary session starts, which will see service resume as normal in Parliament once again. 

ritain's King Charles III attends the presentation of Addresses by both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall, inside the Palace of Westminster, central London on September 12, 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

ritain’s King Charles III attends the presentation of Addresses by both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall, inside the Palace of Westminster, central London on September 12, 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

Members of both Houses will then debate the contents of the speech and agree an ‘Address in Reply to His Majesty’s Gracious Speech’. 

Each House continues the debate over the planned legislative programme for several days, looking at different subject areas. 

Lord Chancellor  

The Monarch’s Speech is traditionally written on a goatskin vellum scroll, although in 2013 this was changed to goatskin parchment paper, which contains no traces of actual goat.

The scroll is delivered on bended knee by the Lord Chancellor, who must then walk backwards down the stairs from the throne, to avoid turning his back on the monarch, which would be seen as a sign of disrespect.



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