Former Olympic rower Dame Katherine Grainger carried a specially crafted ceremonial sword in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II as it was presented to King Charles III at a dedication ceremony in Scotland on Wednesday to mark his coronation.
Dame Katherine held the Elizabeth Sword, which weighs around 7.5kg, at the service at St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, where the king and queen were presented with the Honours of Scotland.
The ceremony of the presentation of the collection of royal items – which include a crown, a sceptre and the sword, made of gold, silver and gems – reflects the British royal family's lasting ties to Scotland.
The Elizabeth Sword has replaced Scotland's current Sword of State, which can no longer be used due to its fragile condition. The new sword is more than twice as heavy as the one Penny Mordaunt carried for the formal coronation in Westminster Abbey in May. It weighed 3.6kg.
But the run-up to the ceremony was marked by protests, with people lining the procession route along the Royal Mile holding posters and chanting “not my king”.
Police Scotland said on Twitter that two women, aged 20 and 21, were arrested in connection with an alleged breach of the peace after they reportedly attempted to climb over crowd barriers
Commissioned at the end of 2022, the Elizabeth Sword cost £22,000 ($28,000), and is named after the late queen.
Its design takes inspiration from Scotland's national flower, the thistle, and the Scottish landscape.
The royal motto is engraved on one side of the blade, “In my defens God me defend”, with the motto of the Order of the Thistle, “Nemo me impune lacessit”, on the other.
The Stone of Destiny, an important symbol of Scottish identity which has been used to crown British monarchs for centuries, was also moved to the cathedral for the festivities.
The sword was presented to the king alongside the sceptre, which was carried by Lady Dorrian, the Lord Justice Clerk, and the crown, carried by the Duke of Hamilton.
'A good physical challenge'
Speaking before the ceremony, Olympian Dame Katherine said carrying the sword would present a “good physical challenge”.
Ms Mordaunt earned praise for her stamina in performing the role at the coronation in May, revealing she took “a couple of painkillers” to be able to carry the heavy Sword of State.
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 practice 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.”
The sword it replaced was gifted to James IV by Pope Julius in 1507.
The new one 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.
Penny Mordaunt at King Charles III's coronation – in pictures
Wednesday's ceremony began with a people's procession from the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.
Chosen to reflect all walks of life in Scotland, among those represented were NHS Scotland, celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Robert Burns World Federation, College of Master Kilt Tailors, the Scottish Parliament, museums and the Trades Houses of Scotland, from coopers to goldsmiths.
The castle's governor, Major General Alastair Bruce, watched the 100-strong group set off, led by Corporal Cruachan IV, the Shetland pony regimental mascot of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, joined by four mounted elements of the Scots Dragoon Guards, the Pipes and Drums of Robert Gordon's Combined Cadet Force and the 51 Brigade Cadet Military Band.
Royal fans arrived early on Edinburgh's Royal Mile ahead of the ceremony, lining the route of the royal procession to St Giles' Cathedral.
Among those attending were Margaret Jenkins, 62, from East Lothian, who said: “I'm excited to see King Charles, my king, and I know not everyone would agree.”
Anne Connolly, 65, from South Shields, said: “It's a good day out. We're looking forward to seeing the king and Camilla.”
Referring to an area fenced off for protesters outside the cathedral, she said: “They've given the protesters the best spot here, the best view. It isn't fair.”