A tradition that Queen Elizabeth typically takes part in every year on the Thursday before Easter had to be called off this year due to COVID-19, but she still managed to send a touching message to her subjects in honor of it.
People Magazine reported that on the Thursday before Easter, the 94 year-old Queen typically hands out specially-minted coins known as Maundy money to recognize people over 70 years old for their service to their communities. She usually does this in-person at churches all over the United Kingdom, but that was of course impossible this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Undeterred, the Queen instead sent the Maundy gift along with a letter to each of the 190 recipients, one man and one woman for each of the Queen’s 95 years. Though she is currently 94, she will be turning 95 later this month.
“Each year, at the Royal Maundy Service, we have an opportunity to recognize, and give thanks for, work done by countless people for the wellbeing of their neighbors; work that has often been taken for granted or hidden,” the Queen wrote in her letter.
“I am sure you will be sad, as I am, that present circumstances make it impossible for that Service to take place,” she added. “I hope however that this Maundy Gift will remind you for years to come that your efforts have been truly appreciated.”
The coins that were just sent out were just recently minted to commemorate the Queen’s 95th birthday and the 50th anniversary of Decimal Day. The coins are traditionally handed out in two small leather purses, one red and one white.
“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,” states the Royal Mint.
One recipient was Agnes Slocombe, who was born in Barbados and moved to the United Kingdom as a young woman. She’s been helping her community as a counselor for over thirty years, and she’s the first black mayor of Barnet.
“It’s wonderful to receive such an honor from The Queen,” Slocombe said. “Even though we are not able to have the Service this year, it’s appreciated as it shows we are still thought of. I have a duty to serve the community and anyone who needs my help, even though I am no longer a councillor, and being thought of fills me with great joy.”
Another recipient was Malcolm Cloutt, a 100 year-old World War II veteran who served all over Europe and in Burma during his military career. He’s given out over 1,000 Bibles over the course of his life, listing each recipient by name and praying for them often.
God bless the Queen for finding a way to continue on with this tradition, even if she couldn’t do so in person.