New film: Baroness Boothroyd on her official portrait as Commons Speaker

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27 April 2017

Today marks the 25th anniversary of Baroness Boothroyd’s election as Speaker of the House of Commons. In this new short film she discusses her official portrait by Andrew Festing and reflects on her time in the role.

The portrait

Plans for Speaker Boothroyd’s official state portrait began in 1992 when a long-list of portrait painters was identified, from which she selected three to meet informally and discuss the commission.

Following these interviews, in early 1993 Speaker Boothroyd selected Andrew Festing to paint her portrait. The painting was completed in April 1994 and hung in the Drawing Room of Speaker’s House, where it still hangs today.

Festing’s painting forms part a collection Speakers’ portraits that was begun in the early 1800s when descendants of former Speakers were asked to donate portraits. Since then, portraits of successive Speakers have been added during their tenure of office.

Baroness Boothroyd

Betty Boothroyd (b. 1929) served as Labour MP for West Bromwich and West Bromwich West from 1973 to 1992.

After the 1992 General Election she was elected Speaker of the House of Commons. She was the first, and to date only, woman to serve in the role.

In 1997 Boothroyd was re-elected as Speaker. She stood down in 2000 and was made a life peer the following year, becoming an active and influential Member of the House of Lords.

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The Speaker

The Speaker chairs debates in the House of Commons and is its official representative at home and abroad