Queen absent from Royal Maundy Service at Chapel Royal

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Maundy Thursday marks day five of Holy Week, which runs from March 28 to April 3 this year. Otherwise known as Holy Thursday, celebrations traditionally include an appearance by Queen Elizabeth II. But few people may understand the religious origins of the holy day.

What happened on Maundy Thursday?

While many Brits will associate Maundy Thursday with the Queen, but its origin often goes overlooked thanks to its proximity to Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Maundy Thursday marks one of the most famous biblical events; the Last Supper.

Scripture states Jesus met with his disciples for a final Passover before his crucifixion on Good Friday.

Jesus washes the feet of his disciples on Maundy Thursday, a ceremony Christians now know as the Eucharist.

He then delivered one final commandment before his death, which gave the day its name.

Jesus compelled his followers to love one another, as written in the bible.

The passage from John 13:34 reads: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

In the evening, Judas betrays Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Maundy Thursday comes from a shortened form of the Latin “mandatum”, which means command.

Roman Catholics celebrate the day with the song Mandatum novum do vobis.

Translated, this means “a new commandment I give to you”.

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What does the Queen do on Maundy Thursday?

The Queen always helms Maundy Thursday celebrations in the UK with a Ceremony of the Royal Maundy – though she won’t be able to this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials pick senior men and women, one for each year of the monarch’s age, for her to award Maundy coins.

These coins come in two purses, one red and one white.

The red purse contains money in place of gifts once given to the poor.

The white one has a coin commemorating each year of the monarch’s reign, which in 2021 is 69 years long.

These sterling silver coins traditionally go to those who have performed service for their community.

The ceremony, first practised in the 17th century, once saw a reigning monarch wash the feet of chosen poor people.

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