THE ROYAL MAUNDY
The Royal Maundy service is held each year on Maundy Thursday. The ancient tradition of giving alms and washing of feet is of great antiquity and in England it can be traced back to King John in 1210. From Edward 1 onwards there are continuous records of this happening on the Thursday of Holy Week. The number of recipients of the Royal Maundy relates to the years of a sovereign’s life, which is a tradition that goes back to the fifteenth century. Recipients are ‘pensioners selected because of the Christian service they have rendered to the church and to the community’ so you can perhaps appreciate just how honoured one feels to have been chosen.
The word ‘Maundy’ derives from the Latin ‘mandatum’, meaning a commandment and the service begins with Jesus’ words “I give you a new commandment: love one another: as I have loved you, so you are to love one another”. And this simple message of love and service shines through all the rich symbolism and pageantry of this historic event.
St. George’s Chapel Windsor was host this year for the Royal Maundy, only the third time this has happened in over six hundred years, and what an impressive venue it is, so full of history and tradition. It wasn’t possible to wander around and look at the chapel but I was given a beautifully illustrated guide book which is the next best thing.
The music from the magnificent organ and from the choir was wonderful to hear. The Tudor uniforms of the Yeoman of the Guard and the more modern ones of the Military Knights of Windsor were of a vivid scarlet and the Queen looked lovely in a shade of blue. At the appointed part of the service the Yeoman of the Guard carried the golden alms dishes holding the Royal Maundy and followed behind Her Majesty who walked up and down the aisles giving two purses to each and every recipient, ninety-two women and ninety-two men. The coins in the purses were all especially minted for the occasion.
The red purse by tradition contains five pounds and fifty pence. It was made up of two coins one, a five pound coin depicting four generations of royalty, the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George, and the other a fifty pence coin commemorating the Representation of the People Act in 1918, when women were first given the vote. The white purse held more silver coins, in one, two three and fourpence denominations adding up to ninety two pence in all.
After the service coaches conveyed us from St. George’s Chapel to Windsor Castle for a Reception in the St. George's Hall which has been beautifully restored following the devastating fire of a few years ago. The State Rooms were open for us to visit and we were able to admire the priceless paintings and treasures they contained. We met some interesting people and had one incredible coincidence. (Read on here....)
It was a day never to be forgotten.
Jean and Felix