Prince Charles takes on centuries old tradition at Maundy Thursday service as Queen pulls out of appearance

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall hold nosegays as they attend the Royal Maundy Service
(Image credit: Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Prince Charles has taken on an “ancient” tradition at this year’s Maundy Thursday service after the Queen pulled out of this annual occasion. 

Following the announcement from Buckingham Palace that the Queen would miss the Maundy Thursday service (opens in new tab) this year, Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla have stepped up at this major Easter occasion. Held at St George’s Chapel, the same venue where Prince Harry and Meghan married (opens in new tab) and where Prince Philip’s funeral took place, the Queen reportedly missed the meaningful ceremony for the first time since 1970. 

It came days after the Queen revealed she’s “exhausted” (opens in new tab) following her Covid-19 health scare earlier this year. In her place, Charles, who is first in the royal line of succession (opens in new tab), marked the “ancient” Easter ceremony and handed out surprising gifts.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales hold nosegays as they attend the Royal Maundy Service

As revealed in a new post shared by the Clarence House social media accounts, Royal Maundy is one of the most “ancient ceremonies” in the Church of England. Her Majesty usually pays tribute to this by handing out “alms” or Maundy coins to senior citizens. 

This is done in recognition of their service and commitment, both to the church and to their local communities. Sadly, the Queen wasn’t there to hand out the Maundy money herself this year.

But the tradition continued thanks to Charles, who represented the Queen at St George's Chapel, alongside Duchess Camilla.

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The Prince of Wales is understood to have handed out the Maundy money and in honour of the Queen’s 96th birthday (opens in new tab) approaching, gave out 96 coins to men and 96 to women. It’s wonderful to see this “ancient” Royal Maundy ceremony continue, especially given its huge significance to the Queen.

Not only is the monarch the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and devoted to her faith, but the Maundy Thursday service was the first public engagement in her 70-year-reign. 

What is Maundy Thursday?

Maundy Thursday is the term used to refer to the last Thursday before the Easter weekend which this year is Thursday, April 14th. This day is also sometimes called Holy Thursday and in Christian tradition, it was the day that Jesus had his Last Supper with the Apostles. 

In the Christian calendar Maundy Thursday marks the end of Lent and in the UK, the Queen honours this day at the Maundy Thursday Service.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attend the traditional Royal Maundy service

The monarch, or this year, Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, is traditionally presented with nosegays - a small bunch of flowers and they hand out the Maundy money in amounts that equal the Queen's age. Sadly the Queen’s absence at this year’s Maundy Thursday service isn’t the only Easter occasion she’s expected to miss.

According to the BBC (opens in new tab), Buckingham Palace has reportedly indicated that Her Majesty is unlikely to be at the Easter Sunday church service alongside other members of The Firm (opens in new tab) on April 17th.

It's not yet known who exactly will be there on Sunday, though it's thought possible that the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend the service.