The Queen has expressed her disappointment that she can’t take part in one of the most ancient royal traditions of all. Maundy Thursday usually sees the Monarch distribute ‘Maundy Money’ at a special Church service. However, owing to the coronavirus pandemic, this year the tradition has been carried out by post.
For centuries, the Monarch has handed out symbolic coins to recipients as part of a ceremony reflecting Jesus’ instructions to his disciples at the Last Supper, to love one another. Now, those who receive the Maundy Gift are chosen for their contribution to community life. There are always as many men and as many women as the Queen’s age – this year, there were to be 94 in each group.
Instead of travelling to St. George’s Chapel, Windsor where the Queen has held the service for the past few years, those chosen have received the Maundy Gift in the post. It’s been accompanied by a letter from Elizabeth II in which she shares her sadness at not being able to take part in the ancient tradition in person.
The Queen writes ”It is one of my most rewarding duties as Sovereign to observe this highly significant ceremony at such an important point in the Christian calendar. I know that you, as a Recipient of this year’s Maundy Gift, will be as disappointed as I am that it is not going ahead, while understanding the necessary decision in the current circumstances.”
Her Majesty continues ”this should not mean that your invaluable contribution within the community goes unnoticed, and I am sending this Maundy Gift to thank you for your Christian service.”
She concludes ”My thoughts and prayers are with you and your families at this difficult time”.
The letter was sent from Windsor Castle where the Queen moved in the middle of March, a week ahead of her planned arrival for Easter Court. She took up residence early because of the coronavirus pandemic.