Queen Elizabeth II has sent a heartfelt letter to this year’s Maundy Gift recipients after the mass in their honour was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The 94-year-old monarch usually meets in person to distribute specially minted coins known as Maundy money to selected recipients over 70 years old to recognise their service to their communities on the Thursday before Easter, which is also known as Maundy Thursday.
But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was unable to go ahead this Thursday (01.04.21), so instead the Queen sent out the coins alongside a touching letter in which she expressed her “personal thanks” to the 190 recipients.
She wrote: “I am delighted to send you the Maundy Gift which I hope you will accept as an expression of my personal thanks to you for all that you have done to enrich the life of your community.
“Each year, at the Royal Maundy Service, we have an opportunity to recognize, and give thanks for, work done by countless people for the well-being of their neighbours; work that has often been taken for granted or hidden.
“I am sure you will be sad, as I am, that present circumstances make it impossible for that service to take place. I hope however that this Maundy Gift will remind you for years to come that your efforts have been truly appreciated.
“My thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones.
“I wish you every blessing, and a very happy Easter.”
This year's coins have been newly minted to commemorate the Queen's 95th birthday – which she celebrates on April 21 – and the 50th anniversary of Decimal Day.
A statement from the Royal Mint read: "It seems to have been the custom as early as the thirteenth century for members of the royal family to take part in Maundy ceremonies, to distribute money and gifts, and to recall Christ's simple act of humility by washing the feet of the poor.”