Prince Charles and Camilla step in for Queen at Maundy Thursday service after she pulls out

The Queen's decision to miss the Maundy Thursday service will not have been taken lightly, reports ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship

The Royal Maundy Service is held each year when, ordinarily, it is the Queen who offers ‘alms’ to senior citizens in recognition of their service to their churches and communities. When the Queen first carried out this tradition, she gave Maundy money to just 26 men and women, which was her age in 1952. Today, the Monarch was represented by Prince Charles and Camilla who were at the historic St George’s Chapel, in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The 95-year-old monarch has been carrying out virtual events Credit: Buckingham Palace/PA

Maundy Thursday is the Christian holy day which falls on the Thursday before Easter and commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles. Today, each of the 96 male and 96 females pensioners received two purses of Maundy money - one red and one white. This year the Red Purse contained a £5 coin and a 50p coin portraying the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The traditional sum of £5.50 is made up of £3 for clothing, £1.50 in lieu of provisions and £1 which represents a piece of the Sovereign's gown. Before Tudor times, pieces of the gown used to be divided between the Maundy recipients. The White Purse contains 96 pennies of minted Maundy Money in nine sets of 10p and two three pences, for the Queen’s age. She will turn 96 on April 21.

Royal Maundy is one of the most ancient ceremonies retained in the Church of England. The Queen’s issues with mobility also mean she is unlikely to attend the Easter Mattins Service at St George’s Chapel on Easter Sunday – despite being close to her private apartments at Windsor Castle where she is currently spending most of her time.

Given how much Holy Week means to the Queen, neither of these cancellations would have been taken lightly and reflect the difficulties she is currently experiencing.

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