Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Videos: Queen Elizabeth II & the Royal Maundy Service

Friday, April 6, 2012

Susan reporting:

We're offering two videos this week, featuring the same royal ceremony fifty years apart. Maundy Thursday marks the beginning of the three days celebrating Easter, and commemorates the events of the Last Supper. In an ancient tradition that dates back at least to the time of King Edward I, the reigning English monarch offers alms, called the Royal Maundy, to a symbolic number of elderly, deserving citizens (one man and one woman for each year of the sovereign's age); the sum of the alms is also the same amount in pence. The sovereign gives each recipient two small leather purses, one red, one white, which are carried in the ceremony by Yeomen of the Guards. In the red purses are modern currency for the purchase of food and clothing. In the white purses are the silver Maundy coins. (For more about Maundy Money, see this post by the Royal Mint.)

The Royal Maundy Service in 1952, shown in the video above, was the first official appearance by Elizabeth as the new queen, only a few weeks after her father's death in February. Because of her youth - she was only twenty-six at the time - the Royal Maundy that she distributed consisted of silver coins totaling twenty-six pence, given to the twenty-six deserving men and women. She was the first English queen to participate in the ceremony since her namesake Elizabeth I, four hundred years earlier.

Sixty years later, the Queen is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee, and when she attended the Royal Maundy Service at York Minster this week, the number of the recipients and the coins were substantially more: eighty-six male and eighty-six female recipients received coins valued at eighty-six pence. Below is video from the service, which took place yesterday, April 5, 2012.


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5 comments:

Norma Shephard said...

Love this. As a millinery museum director, I couldn't help but notice the difference in hat styles.

Susan Bailey said...

Thanks for posting this, very cool. I'm always amazed how much the young queen resembled my aunt Meredith. My mother never believed me until the queen came to Boston years ago and we were lucky enough to get a closeup view. Then she saw what I saw. :-) Her family is quite British (and quite Yankee!).

Di said...

I've never really know what Maundy Thursday was (other than just before Easter) so I just went & read about it in Wikipedia - learned about Spy Wednesday too. Whenever I see bits about the British pomp it brings a tear to my eye - I remember watching things like that with my Grannie - she was born a British Citizen, but came to the US in 1921.

Susan Holloway Scott said...

For those of you not on Twitter...

The Historic Royal Palaces saw this post, and shared with us the fact that the Maundy dishes - the plates or salvers that carry the maundy purses - are kept in the Tower of London's Jewel House. Some are plain, some are embossed. Here's an example of a silver gilt embossed one from c1661:

http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/eGallery/object.asp?object=31743_1&row=4&detail=about

Melissa said...

Would be great to watch interview of the kids in that reel who received some of the money, now that they are all grown up.

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