Holy Thursday is an important date in the Church calendar, and equally in that of the British Sovereign, Elizabeth II. As head of the Church of England, the Queen normally presides over a tradition that dates back to the year 600.
During the Maundy Thursday service, this year held at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, the royal ordinarily hands out Maundy coins to the elderly who’ve been inspirational in their community. The gesture is supposed to commemorate that of Christ when He washed the feet of the Apostles during the Last Supper. (The word Maundy comes from the Latin mandatum, or “commandment,” as Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment to love one another.)
Those who are chosen to receive the Maundy money were selected by their dioceses for the work they carried out in their community and parish. There will be 95 men and 95 women, to match the Queen’s age. The recipients will all receive two leather bags of money: one red and one white.
In one bag there will be specially minted coins adding up to 95 pence; the number of pence, too, corresponds with the age of the sovereign. The other bag contains standard money, and it symbolizes the Queen’s gift for food and clothing.
Sadly, although the coins begin to increase, so too does Elizabeth’s age. And now, as she succumbs to her advancing years, she will have made the difficult decision to hand over the reins for the first time to her eldest son, Charles.
Buckingham Palace shared the Queen was “regretfully unable to commit” and gave details of the change in plan, as reported in the Daily Mail:
“Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will represent Her Majesty The Queen at the Royal Maundy Service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor on Thursday 14th April. The Prince and The Duchess will be met by the Dean of Windsor, The Right Reverend David Conner KCVO and the Lord High Almoner, the Right Reverend Dr. John Inge.
‘Their Royal Highnesses will be presented with nosegays at the start of the service, during which The Prince of Wales will distribute the Maundy money. Following the service, The Prince and The Duchess will proceed to the West Steps where an official photograph will be taken of Their Royal Highnesses and the Royal Maundy party.”
The Queen’s unavoidable decision is sad, but it is wonderful to see the tradition that stems back to 600 AD is still being upheld, and some worthy individuals will be honored.