For the first time in her reign as monarch of the royal family, Queen Elizabeth II had to send Maundy money to recipients by mail and told Christian pensioners that she was “deeply disappointed” that the annual ceremony isn’t moving forward due to the novel coronavirus.
In the lead-up to Easter Sunday, each year on the day before Good Friday — in a tradition that dates back to the 1600s — the Queen presents elderly members of the Church of England, who are nominated by local dioceses for their outstanding contributions to the church and community, with special Maundy coins as an appreciation for their Christian service.
This year’s distribution of the special mints is significant in the sense that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the elderly population throughout the world and this year, the eldest of the 188 recipients is 101-year-old Thomas Brock who will also carry the honor of the oldest active bell-ringer in the world, according to a statement released by the royal family on Thursday.
“He has rung the bells at his local church, St Mary’s, Sunbury-on-Thames, since the age of 7,” the note reads.
“Her Majesty The Queen has written to all 188 recipients of this year’s Maundy money, in place of today’s Royal Maundy Service,” the statement continued. “Recipients have also been sent their Maundy Gifts in the post.”
The statement said that in replacement of the annual ceremony, “this year the purses were instead blessed at the Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace, some weeks ago before being posted to recipients alongside the letter from Her Majesty.”
“It is our hope that this will give recipients a chance to mark the special occasion from their homes instead,” the post read. “Pictured here with their Gifts this week are Hilary, Jane, Jim and Trevor, Judith, Jane and Philip.”
The Queen said in her signed letter to this year’s recipients that, “This ancient Christian ceremony, which reflects Jesus’s instruction to his disciples to love one another, is a call to the service of others, something that has been at the centre of my life. I believe it is a call to service for all of us.”
“It is one of my most rewarding duties as Sovereign to observe this highly significant ceremony at such an important point in the Christian calendar,” the letter continued. “I know that you, as a recipient of this year’s Maundy Gift, will be as deeply disappointed as I am that it is not going ahead, while understanding the necessary decision in the current circumstances”
“However, this should not mean your invaluable contribution within the community goes unnoticed, and I am sending this Maundy Gift to thank you for your Christian service.”
The Queen concluded: “My thoughts and prayers are with you and your families at this difficult time.”