Penny Mordaunt praised for sword-carrying duty during King’s coronation service
Penny Mordaunt has been praised for her conduct during the King’s coronation ceremony, where she held ceremonial swords for more than an hour.
As Lord President of the Council she was responsible for bearing The Sword of State and presenting The Jewelled Sword of Offering to the King – the first time it has been carried and presented by a woman.
Dressed in a custom-made teal outfit with a matching cape and headband with gold feather embroidery, she held and carried the pieces for the majority of the service.
Notable figures including a number of fellow MPs praised her, with Labour MP Emily Thornberry tweeting: “Got to say it, @PennyMordaunt looks damn fine! The sword bearer steals the show. #Coronation.”
Author and columnist Caitlin Moran also commented on the social media buzz around Ms Mordaunt’s role, saying: “Penny Mordaunt’s sword is the “Pippa Middleton’s Bum” of the Coronation.”
Labour MP Chris Bryant quipped in a tweet: “The Penny is mightier than the sword.”
Following the coronation, Ms Mordaunt said said she was “honoured” to have been part of the event.
Huge and heartfelt thanks to all who made this so remarkable. I’m so proud of you all and the King and Queen today.
— Penny Mordaunt (@PennyMordaunt) May 6, 2023
She said: “I’m very aware that our armed forces, police officers and others have been marching or standing for hours as part of the ceremony or to keep us all safe. In comparison, my job was rather easier.
“Huge and heartfelt thanks to all who made this so remarkable. I’m so proud of you all and the King and Queen today.”
Speaking to The Times’ Red Box Politics podcast ahead of the ceremony, she also disclosed she had been “doing some press-ups” in preparation for her sword-carrying role.
RED BOX PODCAST
🗡️ How To Carry A Sword@PennyMordaunt on her role in the Coronation.
👑Crown Jewels expert Charles Farris on spoons, crowns and the bonkers banquet for George IV which ended with a pitch invasion.
— Matt Chorley (@MattChorley) May 6, 2023
Ms Mordaunt, who is also the Leader of the House of Commons, explained: “The Lord President of the Council is really the chairman of the King’s Privy Council.
“It used to be the executive for the King, and it still does a lot of business and it’s an important part of our constitution and the authority that we have in Parliament.
“On the day I am representing the King’s authority, and I am going to be doing a number of things.”
She added that she had been practising in rehearsals with weighted replicas and that her experience in the Navy had helped prepare her for standing for long periods of time without fainting.
She carried the 17th-century Sword of State in procession to the abbey.
Its silver-gilt hilt features the form of a lion and unicorn and the wooden scabbard is covered in red velvet with silver-gilt rose, thistle and fleur-de-lis emblems.
Later in the ceremony Ms Mordaunt exchanged the Sword of State for the Jewelled Sword of Offering and delivered it to the archbishop.
The second sword was briefly clipped to the King’s coronation sword belt and then after a proclamation by the archbishop, the King stepped forward and offered up the sword.
It was then placed on the altar and redeemed with “redemption money” by Ms Mordaunt.
The sword was later drawn and she carried it in its “naked” form – without its scabbard – before the King for the rest of the service.
The Jewelled Sword of Offering has a hilt encrusted with diamonds, rubies and emeralds and a scabbard decorated with jewelled roses, thistles and shamrocks.
It symbolises royal power and being able to decide between good and evil, and the King accepting his duty and knightly virtues.
Asked about being around the King with a “big pointy sword”, Ms Mordaunt admitted she did feel “a terrible weight of responsibility”.
Discussing how she feels the ceremony fits into modern life, Ms Mordaunt added: “I think this is really important to the country. I think the monarchy survives and persists because it adapts and it changes and it’s always relevant.
“And I think that in this coronation, yes, it is going to be royal and marvellous and mystical and spiritual and everything that you would expect it to be, but it will be modern as well.
“And there’s always great chat before an event like this, has it gone too far one way? Has it gone too far the other way? And we always get it absolutely spot on.
“And I think that it’s an important moment for the country. I think the country is proud of the monarchy and the royal family and the service they play.
“They provide stability, we saw that most profoundly last year. And they provide continuity and I think as far as how we’re known by the rest of the world, they’re a huge part of our story.
“I just hope everyone has an amazing weekend, I know that is what the King would wish.”