Penny Mordaunt knows how to steal the show at a royal ceremony even better than Pippa Middleton. 

Yet – in a sign of the progressive age we’re now living in – it wasn’t her perfectly formed bottom but, rather, her impressive upper arm strength that enabled the sword-carrying Commons leader to snatch the limelight from King Charles on his big day. 

Gambling company Ladbrokes Coral slashed odds on Mordaunt becoming the next Tory leader from 8/1 to 7/1 following the coronation – then down to 13/2 today – after she impressed the nation by becoming the first woman to carry and present the 17th century jewelled Sword of Offering to the King. 

The 50-year-old MP for Portsmouth North was chosen to be the sword bearer because she was elected, under Truss, to be the Lord President of the Privy Council, a body of advisers to the sovereign that includes senior elected politicians and ceremonial officers.

Mordaunt certainly showed some stamina. Holding an 8lb sword aloft for almost an hour is no small feat. It’s a role that required some prep, the Commons leader admits. She got in shape with some press-ups and took a couple of painkillers before the ceremony to enable her to handle the weighty artefact. Mordaunt has also joked that her time as a navy reserve was great training when it comes to standing still for long periods of time without passing out. (Insider tip: “wriggle your toes”). 

Mordaunt didn’t just challenge tradition by assuming a formerly male role – she did so too with a garish outfit. While her predecessors would have worn “formal dress, which is black”, she opted for a fitted teal cape dress designed by London-based label Safiyaa, in a bid to reflect the modern tone of the coronation. 

Not everyone was convinced by her get up. Some likened the gold leaf embroidery on her dress shoulders – intended as a subtle nod to the uniform of the Privy Councillors – to the Poundland logo. Others compared her to Princess Leia from Star Wars.

But Mordaunt has done good job of laughing off some of the less flattering outfit commentary. “I was reunited with my phone and found I had become a meme,” she joked to Nick Robinson on his Political Thinking podcast. 

Could this could signal the start of a political comeback for the minister and former Tory leader hopeful?

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