Maundy Thursday: What is the ceremony being held at York Minster and when does it take place?

King Charles III and the Queen Consort Camilla will head the ceremony this year. Credit: PA

More than 70 years ago, the Queen marked the Royal Maundy Service for the first time and the tradition has continued every year since.

On Thursday, 6 April, the King will attend the Maundy service at York Minster. But what is Maundy Thursday, and how will the occasion be marked this year?

What is the story of Maundy Thursday?

Maundy Thursday is a Christian holiday marking the night of the Last Supper - the final Passover meal Jesus shared with his apostles before being crucified.

It marks the end of Lent for Christians and is believed to be the day when Jesus washed his disciples' feet and commanded them to do the same for each other.

The tradition has been adopted in recent times by religious leaders, like the Pope, washing and kissing the feet of church members.

Queen Elizabeth II hands out traditional Maundy Money to lines of recipients in Ripon Cathedral. Credit: PA

How is it celebrated by the Royals?

In the UK, Maundy money is given as an act of charity. Every year, the Queen would travel to cathedrals and abbeys around the UK to give gifts to local people.

According to the official Royal Family website, the Queen would distribute "gifts according to the number of years she has lived".

The late monarch would give special coins to pensioners. These coins have remained almost exactly the same since 1670.

During the service, the Queen would also hold a bouquet of flowers and herbs that would typically be given as a gift.

The late Queen distributed the Royal Maundy at York Minster on two occasions: first on 30 March 1972 and again on 5 April 2012, during her Diamond Jubilee Year. 

A plaque commemorating both visits can be found on the Queen’s Path between St William’s College and York Minster.

What will happen this year?

This year, the service will be held at York Minster by the King and Camilla, the Queen Consort.

King Charles III will present 74 men and 74 women - representative of his age - with a Maundy gift and thank them for their help in local communities.

The men and women have been selected from the Church of England dioceses across the country and Anglican and Ecumenical partners across the UK.

The recipients will be presented with a red purse and a white purse. The white purse will contain a set of minted silver Maundy coins valued to the age of the King and the red purse will contain commemorative coins.

The Royal website said one of the commemorative coins will "celebrate His Majesty's forthcoming 75th birthday and the other will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Windrush generation".

Their Majesties will also formally open the new York Minster Refectory restaurant, with the King unveiling a plaque celebrating the visit.

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