NEWS
24/01/2019 16:46 GMT

A Woman Has Carried The Ceremonial Mace Into The House Of Lords For The First Time

Deputy yeoman usher Fiona Channon made parliamentary history.

History was made in the House of Lords on Thursday as peers witnessed the first ever woman carry out one of its oldest and most well-known traditions.

New deputy yeoman usher, Fiona Channon, carried the ceremonial mace into Parliament’s upper chamber – which must be in place while the House is sitting. 

She is the first female to carry out the ceremonial task in the Lords’ history, which stretches back to the 11th century.

Lord Speaker Norman Fowler congratulated Channon on Twitter.

The mace is placed on the Woolsack (the Lord Speaker’s seat) when the chamber is sitting.

Maces originated as weapons of the bodyguard who protected the Serjeant at arms – the figure responsible for keeping order in the Commons.

They are a symbol of royal authority, and no laws can be passed in their absence. Parliament uses two maces, one dating from the time of Charles II and another from the reign of William III.

The artefacts, which sit in the Commons and the Lords, were recently thrust into the spotlight after MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle removed one from its permanent position in the lower house during a debate, in a one-man Brexit protest.

The Houses can’t function without the mace in place, although no-one knows why this is the case. Its permanence in the Commons was agreed by the start of the 18th century.