I have been posting about the experience of becoming a member of the House of Lords (see here, here and here).

A date was set for my Introduction.  This is a formal process where you are robed up (the one and only time that I have worn the robes) and led into the Chamber at the beginning of the day’s business.

You form part of a procession involving both Black Rod and Garter, together with two colleagues also in robes who “introduce” you (in my case, the two introducers were Lords Andrew McIntosh – the other Haringey – and Frank Judd, both of whom I had known since I was a teenager). Then you listen to your Letters Patent being read out, swear or affirm (I affirmed) an oath of allegiance to the Queen, sign the Roll, and bow.  This is the abbreviated ceremony that lasts about seven minutes – the old ceremony lasted about twice as long and involved much more bowing and the doffing of hats with feathers.

Fortunately, this – as far as I was concerned – took place in something of a pleasant haze.  It is customary to have a good lunch beforehand (which you pay for) with your two colleagues, along with your family and friends.  (With another feudal touch the three Peers are served first when the food arrives.)  I dimly remember being taken off to the Moses Room, putting on the robes and my two colleagues bursting into a chorus from Iolanthe, before a brief rehearsal, and into the Chamber.

Colleagues in the Chamber are keeping tally of those who swear and those who affirm, and mark out of ten the quality of the bow at the end – although (just as well) didn’t know anything of this at the time.  Finally, as you leave the Chamber, you shake hands with the Lord Chancellor (now the Lord Speaker), colleagues growl “Hear, hear” in approval (you hope), and the formal process is over.  Then, after a brief pause to take off the robes and have photographs taken (I was advised not to have any official photographs taken in my robes, as these would thereafter always be the ones used by the media whenever your name was mentioned), you go back into the Chamber in more normal clothes – and the rest of your life begins.

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