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Monarchy Monday: Epiphany

St James Palace

St James’s Palace

Tomorrow (6th January) marks the Epiphany – a Holy Communion that takes place in Chapel Royal at St James Palace. Tradition states that gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were presented to the baby Jesus on this day.

This ceremony dates back to the Norman Conquest in the 11th century. By the 15th century, the ceremony was always attended by the Sovereign right up until 1758.

However, on the eve of Epiphany in 1758, King George III laid his daughter Princess Caroline to rest after her unexpected death, and he refused attend the offering the following day.

According to the ceremony, George would have attended carrying the sword of state and preceded by Heralds, Pursuivants and Knights of the Garter. However, due to his grief, he passed his duties onto his Lord Chamberlain to make the offerings on his behalf.

Tomorrow, just as all years since the funeral of Princess Caroline, the offering will be made by two Gentlemen Ushers to The Queen. They will be escorted to the Royal Closet of the Chapel Royal by a detachment of The Queen’s Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard.

photo credit: Pembleton via photopin cc

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