Acclaimed actress Sophie Okonedo was left laughing with embarrassment when she had to retrieve her OBE medal from the feet of the Prince of Wales.
Charles also saw the funny side of the accident moments after he presented the honour to the Oscar-nominated performer for services to drama.
The star has won widespread acclaim for her portrayals of big, powerful characters and was shortlisted for a best supporting actress Academy Award in 2005 for her role in the film Hotel Rwanda.
But events conspired against her when she stepped forward to receive the award in Buckingham Palace’s ballroom, filled with the family and friends of other recipients.
The prince attached the OBE to a small hook pinned to the actress’s dress as he has done many times before with thousands of other recipients but it fell off right at his feet.
Okonedo said afterwards: “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.”
During the mishap the actress was pictured looking shocked then embarrassed and said Charles was the perfect host, offering to retrieve the medal – “The prince said: I’ll pick that up for you.” But before he could she knelt down to get the award that had bounced off his foot.
The London-based actress comes from humble beginnings and was brought up by her Jewish pilates instructor mother, Joan. Her father returned to his native Nigeria when Okonedo was a small child.
At the start of the year she appeared in a television biopic portraying Winnie Mandela and even donned fat suits to emulate her character’s figure. The role earned her a Bafta nomination and she was also shortlisted for another Bafta for playing a lawyer in the BBC drama Criminal Justice but missed out at the ceremony.
She said: “I feel really, really privileged to be here, especially as there are so many people who have done amazing things here. 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.”