King Charles service: Dame Katherine Grainger says carrying Elizabeth Sword at Edinburgh service a 'good physical challenge'

Dame Katherine Grainger will carry the Elizabeth Sword at a ceremony at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh to mark King Charles III’s coronation

Olympic rower Dame Katherine Grainger has said she feels privileged to be carrying the Elizabeth Sword at a ceremony to mark the King’s coronation though doing so will be a “good physical challenge”.

The 5ft sword, which weighs around 7.5kg, will be presented to the King along with the sceptre and crown from the Honours of Scotland – the Scottish crown jewels – at a service at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

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Dame Katherine said it was a “real pinch-yourself moment” to be asked to take part in the ceremony and carry the Elizabeth Sword, a new sword specially crafted to be used in place of Scotland’s current Sword of State, which can no longer be used due to its fragile condition.

Dame Katherine Grainger. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty ImagesDame Katherine Grainger. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Dame Katherine Grainger. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

She has been glad of a recent rehearsal that gave an opportunity to get to grips with the challenges of carrying the “absolutely beautiful” sword.

The Olympian told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “It’s an absolutely massive privilege to be carrying it. It’s a good physical challenge, I’ll be honest.

“We have had a little rehearsal, so I have met the sword. The sword is brand new so it’s the first time it has been used in anything.

“What’s really impressive is it’s really well weighted so when you have it upright as it will be carried in, it feels right, it sits quite comfortably but you need to lay it down and lift it up, so the manoeuvring of it has been a bit challenging so it takes a bit of practice.

“I think everyone’s biggest fear is that it looks as spectacular as it should and I don’t drop it anywhere.”

It comes after cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt revealed she took “a couple of painkillers” before carrying the Sword of State at the King’s coronation in London in May – the first time the role has been carried out by a woman – earning praise for her stamina.

At the service in Edinburgh, Lady Dorrian, the Lord Justice Clerk will carry the sceptre and the Duke of Hamilton the crown from the Honours of Scotland.

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Dame Katherine, who won medals at five consecutive Olympics – a gold and four silvers – said she was glad of the chance to rehearse as she did not have anything the same size or weight as the sword to practise with elsewhere.

She said: “It was incredibly useful to have the practice, even things like coming through doorways just making sure that I don’t do any damage to the sword or anybody nearby. It really is an incredible showpiece, along with the sceptre and the crown for the honours, so it’s going to be an incredible ceremony and it’s just a massive honour.”

Scotland’s current Sword of State was gifted to James IV by Pope Julius in 1507. The new sword was designed by Mark Dennis and was worked on by a number of expert Scottish craftspeople.

It features a pommel of Lewisian gneiss, and a scabbard wrought from Perthshire oak.

Following the service, the sword and Honours will be returned to the care of Historic Environment Scotland.



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