Black Rod snubbed by Queen in honours for staff

Black Rod, the House of Commons official who oversaw the Queen Mother's lying-in-state, has been omitted from a list of commemorative honours personally awarded by the Queen today.

Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Willcocks was at the centre of a political storm when Tony Blair was accused of attempting to enhance his own role in the Queen Mother's funeral at Easter.

Sir Michael refused to back Downing Street's version of events and the resulting furore might have made it difficult for the Queen to honour him so soon afterwards.

Another loyal servant missing from the list is William Tallon, who served the Queen Mother for 51 years.

Mr Tallon was told he would have to leave his home in the grounds of Clarence House after the end of his employment with the Queen Mother.

The former Steward and Page of the Backstairs had been ostracised by the Royal Family after the Queen Mother's 101st birthday last summer, when it was claimed by Palace officials that he pushed the seriously ill Princess Margaret's wheelchair into the traditional Clarence House line-up, despite her shocking appearance.

The honours mark the Queen's personal tribute to members of the households of her mother and sister, Princess Margaret, and those who helped to organise the golden jubilee celebrations.

While Mr Tallon received no honour, the former head of the Queen Mother's household, the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, was awarded a knighthood.

It is customary to mark the deaths of senior members of the Royal Family by awarding honours to staff and officials who worked for them.

The awards, announced the day after the Queen Mother's birthday, are from the prestigious Royal Victorian Order, which is in the Queen's personal gift, and are made without reference to Whitehall.

Military personnel in the Queen Mother's cortège, the Irish Guards bearer party that carried her coffin and the gun carriage party from the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, were also given honours.

A number of BBC staff were honoured for their contributions to the golden jubilee concerts. The most senior, Nicholas Vaughan-Barratt, the BBC's director of events for the Queen's concerts, was made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order.

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