Some traditions were meant to be carried on, pandemic or not. To the delight of many, Queen Elizabeth found a socially distanced way to perform a Holy Week royal service that dates back centuries.
As The Royal Mint website explains, back in 1213, King John began distributing coins to the elderly on the Thursday before Easter, a holy day known as Maundy Thursday. Monarchs have been continuing the tradition ever since, and from the 1600s on, the coins given have been specially minted for the occasion. The monarch gives a sum of coins equivalent to their own age to recipients, all over 70, selected for their distinguished community service work. This year, the queen has chosen one man and one woman to commemorate each of her 95 years, equaling 190 recipients (via People).
Normally, the queen hands out the “Maundy money” following church services, but with the COVID-19 virus still active in the U.K., large public gatherings are still prohibited. That didn’t stop the palace from carrying on the 900-year tradition; it was just modified slightly.
The queen's Maundy money was shipped out
With typical British resolve, the queen had the coins – two each, in red and white pouches – delivered, along with a letter thanking the 190 recipients for their service. It said in part, “I am sure you will be sad, as I am, that present circumstances make it impossible for [the Royal Maundy] Service to take place,” she added. “I hope however that this Maundy Gift will remind you for years to come that your efforts have been truly appreciated.” She closed by offering her thoughts, prayers and blessings to the honorees (via People).
Royalty aren’t the only ones who express generosity at this time of year. Because Maundy Thursday (sometimes known as Holy Thursday) commemorates Jesus’ Last Supper and the origins of Holy Communion, it’s customary for Christians to donate to the poor or to gather for church suppers that feature charity collections (via Time and Date).
While the queen wasn’t able to attend church services, that hasn’t stopped her from performing other royal duties. People also reported that she attended the hundredth anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force on Wednesday.
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