Excitement has been building in Blackburn, Lancashire, ever since the local cathedral announced that it is to hold the Royal Maundy service this year.
Her Majesty The Queen will be travelling with Prince Philip to Blackburn on Thursday, 17 April for the service, and will hand out Maundy Money to local elderly residents, as is the tradition. Maundy Thursday occurs every year on the Thursday prior to Easter. This year 176 residents were invited by Buckingham Palace – 88 women and 88 men, reflecting the monarch’s age of 88 years old.
Citizens have been co-operating and volunteering their time in order to prepare the town to welcome their Queen. Residents have spruced up the centre of Blackburn so that it will be on its best display for the royal guests this week.
Volunteering events were arranged for Saturday 12th April to gather locals together with the goals of cleaning up litter, planting flowers outside of Blackburn Cathedral, and cleaning the windows and doors of businesses in the area. The event was arranged by Your Call, a volunteer campaign launched by the borough council in 2011.
A WWI theme had previously been planned by local officials to be used for spring planting. Timing of the planting was adjusted to coincide with the royal visit.
Kate Hollern, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said that the locals are proud that Blackburn Cathedral was selected for the Royal Maundy service, and that they “wanted to share that feeling of pride with an event that really brings the community together. People who take part in Your Call activities are invaluable”.
Festivities were incorporated into the clean-up event, including a craft station for children, where they could create items to take home, such as pottery or even their own Maundy Money.
Her Majesty visits a different UK abbey or cathedral annually for the Royal Maundy service. The observance celebrates local citizens aged 70 and over and their services to their church and community. After attending the service, The Queen customarily bestows Maundy Money to the residents as a gesture of appreciation. The practice dates back to medieval times.
A few weeks before the Royal Maundy service, a ‘Maundy Lecture’ traditionally takes place. This was recently delivered by Rt Rev. John Inge, the current Bishop of Worchester, at Blackburn Cathedral ahead of the monarch’s visit, and was attended by recipients of the symbolic Maundy Money who travelled to the Cathedral from all areas of the County.
Lancashire’s Bishop Rt Rev. Julian Henderson reflected the enthusiasm of the County and the importance of the event when he said, “Normally people visit Her Majesty to receive honours, so it is symbolic that this is the only occasion that The Queen travels to make an award.”
This will be The Queen’s first Maundy service at Blackburn Cathedral. Her Majesty and Prince Phillip are expected to arrive at 10.45am at Blackburn Railway Station before being driven to the Cathedral for the service.
photo credit: Thanks to Blackburn with Darwen Council for permission to use photos from their Flickr album Your Call Event to get Blackburn ready for The Queen via Flickr