Michael Willcocks

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Sir Michael Willcocks

Officers of the Order of the Garter (Willcocks cropped).JPG
Willcocks in 2006 in Order of the Garter robes
Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod
In office
9 May 2001 – 30 April 2009
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded bySir Edward Jones
Succeeded bySir Freddie Viggers
Personal details
Born (1944-07-27) 27 July 1944 (age 74)
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/service British Army
Years of service1964–2001
RankLieutenant General
Commands1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery
Battles/warsIndonesia–Malaysia confrontation
The Troubles
Gulf War
Bosnian War

Lieutenant General Sir Michael Alan Willcocks, KCB, CVO (born 27 July 1944) is a retired officer of the British Army and former Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod for the Parliament of the United Kingdom's House of Lords.

Military career[edit]

Willcocks was commissioned into the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1964.[1] He was appointed Commanding Officer of 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery in 1983.[1]

He became Deputy Assistant Chief Of Staff at Headquarters UK Land Forces in 1985, Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence/Operations at Headquarters UK Land Forces in 1988 and Commander Royal Artillery for the 4th Armoured Division in 1989.[1] He went on to be Assistant Chief of Staff for Land Operations at the Joint War Headquarters for the Gulf War in 1991, Director of Army Plans and Programme at the Ministry of Defence in 1991 and Director-General Land Warfare at the Ministry of Defence in 1993.[1]

He was then appointed Chief of Staff for the Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps in 1994, Chief of Staff for the Land Component of the Peace Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995 and Assistant Chief of the General Staff in 1996.[1] His last appointments were as Deputy Commander (Operations) for the Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1999 and as UK military representative to NATO and the European Union from 2000 until his retirement in 2001.[1]

Black Rod[edit]

Willcocks was appointed Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod on 9 May 2001. After seven years in this post, he announced in late 2008 that he was stepping down from the role,[2] and relinquished the post on 29 April 2009.[3]

At Willcocks' first State Opening of Parliament, Dennis Skinner, MP, famous for interrupting Black Rod with a traditional "Queen's Speech Quip", said "You're nowt but a midget!" At his last State Opening, Skinner asked, "any Tory moles at the Palace?", referring to the controversial then-recent arrest of Conservative MP Damian Green in connection with an investigation about receiving confidential information from a civil servant at the Home Office who had been a former Conservative Party candidate. In a mild, but highly memorable breach of protocol, Willcocks responded (interruptions are supposed to be ignored) "I shall miss you, Dennis", receiving laughter from other MPs.[4] As Black Rod, Willcocks oversaw the Queen Mother's lying-in-state at Westminster Hall.[5]

Willcocks was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the New Year Honours 2000.[6] The Queen invested him with the insignia of a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order on his retirement as Black Rod on 29 April 2009.[3] He is also a Knight Commander of Merit with Star of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George.[7]

Other roles[edit]

Willcocks is also the current Charter Commissioner for the Press Complaints Commission.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Debrett's People of Today Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Appointment to the post of Black Rod". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 17 December 2008. Archived from the original on 18 June 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Court Circular". The Times. 30 April 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2009. (subscription/registration required)
  4. ^ "Appointment to the post of Black Rod". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 17 December 2008. Archived from the original on 18 June 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  5. ^ "Honours for Queen Mother's staff", telegraph.co.uk, 5 August 2002; accessed 23 October 2014.
  6. ^ "No. 55710". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1999. p. 2.
  7. ^ Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George website; accessed 23 October 2014.
  8. ^ Press Complaints Commission Archived 27 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine, pcc.org.uk; accessed 23 October 2014.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Timothy Granville-Chapman
Assistant Chief of the General Staff
1996–1999
Succeeded by
Kevin O'Donoghue
Preceded by
Sir Paul Haddacks
UK Military Representative to NATO
2000–2001
Succeeded by
Sir Kevin O'Donoghue
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Edward Jones
Black Rod
2001–2009
Succeeded by
Sir Freddie Viggers