Why Penny Mordaunt's Coronation Outfit Was The Feminist Statement We Needed
The sartorial stakes were predictably high for guests lucky enough to receive an invitation to King Charles III’s Coronation. And, fortunately for royal fans, attendees didn’t disappoint.
From Kate Middleton’s Alexander McQueen ivory dress and silver bullion, crystal and silver thread-work, wreath-shape headpiece, and Prince Charlotte’s simplified version of her mother’s dress, to Prince Harry's Dior dark grey morning suit, there was much to admire. But one surprising fashion icon to emerge from Westminster Abbey was Penny Mordaunt.
Mordaunt, the leader of the House of Commons, was required to carry the 17th-Century Sword of State – which weighed a staggering 3.6kg – during the ceremony. To ‘train’ for the role, Mordaunt told the Times Red Box podcast last week: ‘I’m doing a number of things. One of them will be carrying the sword of state, which is the heaviest sword, so I’ve been doing some press-ups to train for that. That represents his authority. It was one of two swords made for Charles II and only one survives.
‘It 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 practised with some replicas that were weighted, and it’s a huge honour to do it.’
She became the first woman to assume the role, and took the opportunity to break with tradition with her choice of clothing. Laura Round, Mordaunt’s former special adviser until 2019, said of the look to the Times: ‘No ceremonial uniform for a state occasion had ever been made for a female lord president, so Mordaunt paid for an outfit to be made.’
The i reports that Mordaunt declined to wear the black and gold privy councillor court outfit, worn by her male predecessors such as the Marquess of Salisbury at the late Queen’s Coronation in 1953, and created her own ‘feminised’ look for the ceremony.
Honoured to be part of the #coronation with thousands of others who played their part. I'm very aware that our armed forces, police officers & 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. pic.twitter.com/ksmpGWUtog
— Penny Mordaunt (@PennyMordaunt) May 6, 2023
She commissioned a teal-coloured dress from the London-based label Safiyaa, which featured a fern motif embroidered by the atelier Hand and Lock. The teal colour, called Poseidon, is reportedly a reference to her Portsmouth constituency. She coordinated the look with a hat created by milliner Jane Taylor, which featured the same embellishment. Mordaunt's look is currently available to purchase online for £1,195, (without the embroidery).
A source told the Sunday Times last month: ‘She is paying for it herself as there is no budget for it, and no question that any taxpayers’ money should be spent on it. Penny has said that after the coronation she might sell it and use the money to fund future uniforms for women.’
Mordaunt told the Times Red Box podcast that her commissioned look was an attempt to help the ceremony appear ‘modern’ as well as ‘royal and marvellous and mystical and spiritual’. ‘I have had something made, and it will be modern, it will definitely be made for a woman, but it will also be lifting the embroidery of the privy council,’ she added.
She also told Politico she wanted ‘to come up with something that is modern and will give a firm nod to the heritage’. The new fashion star styled the look with a pair of nude-coloured heels and pearl drop earrings
The look went down a storm with her colleagues and critics on social media, with Labour MP Emily Thornberry tweeting: ‘Got to say it, Penny Mordaunt looks damn fine! The sword bearer steals the show.’
Got to say it, @PennyMordaunt looks damn fine!
The sword bearer steals the show.#Coronation
— Emily Thornberry (@EmilyThornberry) May 6, 2023
Author Caitlin Moran even compared Mourdant’s sword moment to Pippa Middleton at the 2011 royal wedding. ‘Penny Mordaunt’s sword is the “Pippa Middleton’s Bum” of the Coronation,’ she tweeted.
Correction: Penny Mordaunt's sword is the "Pippa Middleton's Bum" of the Coronation.
— Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) May 6, 2023
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