Queen Camilla attends Royal Maundy Service at Worcester Cathedral

Camilla handed out money on behalf of King Charles for the 2024 service

Yesterday, Queen Camilla represented King Charles at this year’s Royal Maundy service, hosted by Worcester Cathedral. It comes after The King has scaled back his public engagements due to undergoing treatment for cancer.

The Queen Consort was greeted at the Cathedral by the Lord High Almoner John Inge, the Bishop of Worcester, before posing for photographs outside the Cathedral.

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Camilla was presented by local children with the traditional nosegay – a small flower bouquet, to literally make the nose gay (happy) – as she entered the place of worship, and sat as the service began.

For the first time, The King tasked the Worcester Cathedral Flower Guild with crafting the Maundy Service nosegays.  The Guild worked with the Royal floristry team, they made sustainable, locally sourced arrangements.

Previously, this had been a service provided by royal-warrant holding florists.

Queen Camilla attended the Royal Maundy Service. (Royal Family/Twitter)

Despite not being able to attend today’s service, Charles’ presence was very much felt. The King recorded a special message which was played at the Cathedral, in a similar way to the Commonwealth Day Service earlier this year at Westminster Abbey.

Opening his message, he expressed ‘great sadness’ how he wasn’t able to attend, as the Maundy Service holds a ‘very special’ place in his heart.

His Majesty acknowledged how we are ‘blessed by all the different services that exist for our welfare’ but ‘over and above these organisations and their selfless staff, we need and benefit greatly from those who extend the hand of friendship to us, especially in a time of need’.

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He stated how the recipients of the Maundy money – chosen for their contributions to the community and church – are ‘wonderful examples of such kindness’ who go ‘beyond the call of duty and of giving so much of their lives to the service of others in their communities’.

Charles concluded his message by reflecting on a pledge that he made during his Coronation Service ‘not to be served but to serve’ and that he has always tried to uphold it and will continue to do so with his ‘whole heart’.

After the Service had concluded, Queen Camilla distributed Maundy money, in a role typically carried out by the Monarch or a blood royal.

Her Majesty walked along a line of recipients, saying a few words of gratitude to each as the purses were distributed, continuing the tradition of royal alms on the holiday of the Christian calendar.

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Queen Camilla hands out Maundy money on behalf of The King. (Royal Family/Twitter).

During the ceremony, recipients receive two purses: one red and another white. Maundy coins were given to 75 women and 75 men, representing Charles’ age. This is based on a decree dating back to the time of Henry IV, and ties into the Sovereign’s role as Head of the Church of England.

The white purse contained a set of specially minted silver Maundy coins, again equivalent in value to the age of the Monarch (75p).

The coins were given to those senior citizens in recognition of their service to their churches and communities. The sum is nominal – less than £6 – but the coins are specially struck and for most recipients a special memento, and their worth far outstretches the face value.

A range of maundy coins distributed during the Royal Maundy Service (Royal Mint).

The service on Maundy Thursday commemorates Jesus washing the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper; it takes place every year on the Thursday before Easter Sunday. The royal ceremony of awarding gifts on this day dates back to 600AD.

The first English Monarch to be recorded as distributing alms at a Maundy service was King John, of Magna Carta fame, in 1210. In Knaresborough, Yorkshire, the King donated food, clothes and other gifts but it was in 1213 that the record of a silver coin distribution was made.

By 1363, under Edward III, the Monarch washed the feet of peasants, imitating Jesus. This was a tradition that ceased in the 18th century.

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Today, the service travels to a different British cathedral, though in the latter years of Elizabeth II’s reign, they tended to be close to London to avoid her needing to travelling far. 2023 saw Charles and Camilla attend the service at York Minster, the first Maundy service of his reign.

Following the service, The Queen greeted members of the public who had gathered to see her.

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