Penny Mordaunt explains controversial shoes worn before coronation ceremony

The Leader of the House of Commons became an unexpected star of the day

Kate Ng
Monday 29 May 2023 04:38 BST
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Penny Mordaunt says painkillers helped her carry coronation sword

Penny Mordaunt has explained why she wore flat “fluffy slippers” before taking part in the coronation ceremony of King Charles III and Queen Camilla earlier this month.

The Conservative MP, who has been Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons since September 2022, played a central role in the ceremony on 6 May, which saw her bearing the sword of state for 51 minutes.

During the ceremony, she wore a pair of sparkly silver shoes with a low heel. However, upon her arrival at Westminster Abbey ahead of the event, keen-eyes viewers pointed out Mordaunt had been wearing rather casual-looking flat shoes.

In a new interview with The Times, Mordaunt, 50, explained that her footwear choices were based on how long she would be standing during the ceremony.

Recalling how the procession to enter the abbey had been lined up in the cloisters, she said: “Right at the back of that was me. You had all these military types with their incredible uniforms and regalia, but Gordon [Messenger] and I had learnt in rehearsals that we should sit down for as long as possible, so we were sitting in the cloisters.

“And, I must confess, I was wearing a pair of fluffy slippers – I wasn’t going to put my heels on until the last minute.”

Mordaunt previously revealed that she took painkillers to help her get through the coronation while carrying the eight-pound sword, but dismissed rumours that she had physically trained specifically for the role.

In her latest interview, she said she was not the only one who had relied on painkillers on the big day.

“I was joking with the three defence chiefs behind me at the altar, who all had various aches and pains, that there was the overwhelming smell of Voltarol,” she said, referring to the muscle and pain relief gel.

“We’d all taken a Nurofen because it was all a bit painful. But we were so caught up in the moment, which is exactly how it should be.”

Mordaunt became an unexpected star of the coronation thanks to her striking look as she carried the ceremonial sword. Her outfit, a teal dress with a leaf motif designed by London fashion house Safiyaa, also became a focal point of the day.

Those who played the same role as Mordaunt before her had worn a court dress with a “huge hat”, but Mordaunt said she “knew it was not what the King really wanted” and instead opted for an outfit that reflected “a modern coronation for a modern king”.

“I took some advice from Savile Row, who were very helpful,” she said. “I then found Hand & Lock, who do embroidery. They did lots of different designs and mood boards.”

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