Acclaimed actress Sophie Okonedo managed to turn what should have been a solemn occasion into a right royal laugh when she dropped a medal onto the floor, just missing the foot of the heir to the British throne.
Okonedo – star of such films as the BBC’s Winnie (2010) and the genocide drama Hotel Rwanda (2004) – was receiving her OBE for services to drama at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
But, once Prince Charles – son of Queen Elizabeth II – had presented the medal to Okonedo, it fell from her dress close to his highly polished shoe.
Embarrassed, she immediately stooped and picked up the medal, although the 62-year-old prince had offered to do so himself.
Okonedo said: “It feels really good to get the OBE but I dropped it on the floor. So that was a bit embarrassing. I’m just glad I didn’t trip over.”
Okonedo’s role in Hotel Rwanda earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
From humble beginnings, Okonedo – who lives in London – worked on a clothes stall and took part in a writers’ course before landing a place at one of Britain’s top theatre schools, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, or RADA.
When Okonedo played the title role in Winnie – about the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela – she had to wear fat suits to change her appearance.
Of her OBE presentation, she said: “I feel really, really privileged to be here, especially as there are so many people who have done amazing things here.
“My career has been pretty even, the last 15 to 20 years have been a steady growth.
“My Winnie Mandela part was my favourite ever I think. A character like her is such an iconic character and she has all the ingredients; you get the chance to play the whole gamut of emotions.”