What was Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt's role in the King's coronation?

Penny Mordaunt had a crucial role on Saturday. Credit: PA

Words by Lily Ford, Multimedia Producer

The royal family hoped for a flawless execution of the necessary customs required of a monarch's coronation on Saturday.

All eyes were on the carefully curated service in which Charles and Camilla formally became the King and Queen.

And hundreds of people had a part to play - including the Lord President of the Privy Council, Penny Mordaunt, a Conservative MP.

What exactly was required of her?

As part of an ancient custom during the coronation, 100 newly-minted 50p pieces bearing an effigy of the crowned King were exchanged for a glittering Jewelled Sword of Offering.

Ms Mordaunt carried out the task, redeeming the sword for the bag of silver-coloured coins, worth £50 in total, at the altar in Westminster Abbey.

She became the first woman in history to present the intricate, tapered, priceless sword, which was made for George IV’s extravagant 1821 coronation, to a monarch.

The sword was blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury before Ms Mordaunt carried it to the King and placed it in his right hand. 

It was clipped to the golden coronation sword belt also known as the girdle around his waist.

Ms Mordaunt at the Accession Council following the Queen's death. Credit: PA

Then it was unclipped, with the King stepping forward to offer it to the Dean of Westminster who placed it on the altar.

Ms Mordaunt received the sword after exchanging it for the redemption money which she placed on an alms dish held by the Dean.

She then drew the sword and carried it in its “naked” form – without its scabbard – before the monarch for the rest of the service.

Why Penny Mordaunt?

As the Lord President of the Privy Council and Leader of the House Commons, Ms Mordaunt's involvement extends beyond coronations.

She also oversaw the Accession Council following the Queen's death in September 2022.

What is the history behind the exchange?

The custom - modernised in decimalised currency introduced since the last coronation 70 years ago – forms a traditional part of the ceremony, when a peer used to offer the price of 100 silver shillings in return.

The commemorative coins, made of cupro-nickel, were released by the Royal Mint last month to mark the coronation.

The King and Queen Consort will be coronated on Saturday. Credit: PA

They depict Charles wearing a Tudor crown, and, on the reverse, feature a drawing of Westminster Abbey by the Royal Mint’s resident designer, Natasha Jenkins, above the King’s cypher and crown.

The small velvet bag was used at the coronation of Charles’s grandfather, George VI, in 1937 for the same purpose.

The sword, which has a hilt encrusted with diamonds, rubies and emeralds and a scabbard decorated with jewelled roses, thistles and shamrocks, symbolises royal power and the monarch accepting his duty and knightly virtues.

After the ceremony, Ms Mordaunt said she was “honoured” to have been part of the coronation.

She tweeted after the event: “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.”

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