Why The Woman Carrying The Sword At King Charles' Coronation Was So Important

King Charles III's coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on May 6, as the royal family and other invited guests gathered inside the church to witness the crowning of the new monarch — the first to take part in the honorable ceremony in seven decades. During the event, Charles was presented with a sword handled by the Lord President of the Council and the Leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt. 

Wearing a blue and gold ensemble complete with a cape and a headpiece, Mordaunt was given the important role of carrying the Jeweled Sword of Offering. The sword featured diamonds, rubies, and emeralds and is one of a handful of items that carry "knightly virtues," according to the Royal Collection Trust. It represents the "protection of good and the punishment of evil," the Trust wrote.

After entering the church, Mordaunt switched the sword — which was originally supplied for George IV's coronation in 1821 — with one that was lighter and easier to carry before presenting it to Archbishop Justin Welby for a blessing. Next, the sword was delivered to Charles. "Ms. Mordaunt was then instructed to draw the sword and carry it in its naked form — without its scabbard — before the monarch for the rest of the service," The Scotsman reported.

Mordaunt's role in the crowning ceremony was significant for quite a few reasons. Not least of which, she was the first woman to ever carry the Jeweled Sword of Offering. Prior to the coronation, she spoke to Politico about her important role in the new king's big day.

Mordaunt trained for the occasion

Ahead of the May 6 event, Penny Mordaunt — who was almost prime minister of the United Kingdom and has a background as a naval reservist — told Politico she took her role in King Charles III's coronation very seriously and said she was excited for the event. The Leader of the House of Commons also presided over King Charles III's accession council shortly after Queen Elizabeth II died. Referring to the sword-carrying task, Mordaunt said that "it's drawing on all of my military drill experience."

And no small task it was. The sword Mordaunt carried was heavy, at 4 feet in length and weighing 8 pounds. "[I] will be carrying the Sword of State, which is the heaviest sword, so I've been doing some press-ups to train for that," Mordaunt said. The sword, Mordaunt continued, "has to be carried at right angles to the body, hence the need to do press-ups — pointing upwards, out in front of you, for some time. We practiced with some replicas that were weighted." 

Despite all those challenges, Mordaunt was honored to do it, she said. Also part of the job was standing still and straight for quite some time. Mordaunt also drew on her military training to do so without passing out. Amidst all the pomp and circumstance, Murdaunt's performance caught the attention of British Labour leader Labour MP Emily Thornberry. Thornberry wrote in a tweet, "Got to say it, @PennyMordaunt looks damn fine! The sword bearer steals the show." 

She brought back some fierce Tudor style

Although Penny Mordaunt had to otherwise follow tradition fairly closely in her role at King Charles III's coronation, she did make a few things more modern. Mordaunt chose to wear blue and gold rather than the black and gold garb worn by the Marquess of Salisbury at Queen Elizabeth II's 1953 coronation. The look was designed by London-based label Safiyaa, with gold embroidery from the centuries-old embroidery house Hand and Lock. 

As Mordaunt told Politico, she "felt it wasn't right" to wear black at the ceremony, and she wanted "to come up with something that is modern" but that also would also give a firm nod to heritage. "It's going to be spectacular, it's going to be beautiful, and the sort of thing that makes the whole nation very proud," she said.

Aside from having an important, symbolic role during the church service, Mordaunt has already made headlines for her appearance. In fact, The Telegraph has dubbed her the "Pippa Middleton" of the coronation, referring to how Pippa — sister of Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales — grabbed attention at William and Kate's 2011 royal wedding. 

The look also caught rocker Courtney Love's attention. "I'm now obsessed with @PennyMordaunt taking it WAY up a notch," Love's tweet read, referring to her Tudor style. Also on Twitter, Labour Party member Kim McGuinness wrote, "Penny deserves a celebratory drink ... I just hope she's got the strength left in her arms to lift it to her mouth!!"