The Easter period marks a change of pace for the famously hard-working British monarch. Shortly before the Bank Holiday weekend, the Queen embarks on a month-long stay at Windsor Castle in leafy Berkshire, the royal residence where she normally only spends weekends. The Royal Standard flag is flown from the Round Tower when she’s present.
The Queen’s extended sojourn at Windsor is known as Easter Court and will begin on 30 March this year. It typically includes ‘dine and sleeps’, during which the monarch welcomes high-profile public figures, such as politicians and diplomats, to the castle. Easter Court and hosting special dinners for notable guests are part of a series of royal Easter traditions.
Distributing Royal Maundy Money
The age-old Royal Maundy Service takes place on Maundy Thursday at one of Britain’s major places of Christian worship, such as Westminster Abbey. During her long reign, the Queen has travelled widely to attend Royal Maundy Services. She’s visited every Anglican cathedral in the country, for example. For the past couple of years, the venue has been close to home: St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were married.
The Queen’s role in the Royal Maundy Service involves giving Maundy money to deserving individuals – usually pensioners – who’ve made a significant contribution to their local community. This act of humility commemorates Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.
What is Maundy money? The term refers to a set of four specially minted, sterling silver coins in denominations from one to four pence. It’s customary for the number of male and female recipients, as well as the value (in pence) of each recipient’s Maundy money, to correspond to the monarch’s age. Of course, the coins’ sentimental value far outweighs their face value. The Queen presents everyone with a white leather purse containing the Maundy money, plus a red one containing a small number of ordinary coins in lieu of the food and clothing historically given by British monarchs to people in need on this day.
A BBC newsreel from 1952 shows the Queen, shortly before her 26th birthday, arriving at Westminster Abbey to perform her Maundy duties. As the BBC noted, this was the young woman’s first public engagement as monarch, the coronation ceremony having not yet taken place. Then as now, the Royal Family planned to spend Easter at Windsor.
Attending an Easter Sunday Service
As Karen Dolby points out in her witty book, Queen Elizabeth II’s Guide to Life, Easter is one of those rare occasions when the monarch doesn’t attend to her Despatch Boxes, the bright red receptacles of important documents concerning UK governance.
The long weekend is largely a private affair for the Royal Family. In the words of high-society magazine Tatler, ‘Her Majesty loves nothing more than a family get-together at Easter.’ However, you will see the Queen and other prominent royals attending an Easter Sunday service at St George’s Chapel. The monarch was joined by Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, last year. After the service, it’s traditional for local children to give the Queen small bouquets.
Easter Sunday 2019 is likely to have been highly memorable for the monarch, as it coincided with her birthday, 21 April. As she left the chapel, onlookers sang ‘Happy Birthday to You’!
Unforgettable Easter Eggs
‘The Queen loves chocolate,’ the former royal chef Darren McGrady told BBC Food. So although she doesn’t go egg-hunting, perhaps the monarch enjoys a sweet Easter treat.
Buckingham Palace’s Royal Mews is the setting for the annual Easter Extravaganza, a public event offering young families the chance to make fun, sparkly decorative eggs.
By far the most spectacular eggs are found in the Royal Collection: three Imperial Easter Eggs by Fabergé. The intricate Mosaic Egg is regarded as one of Fabergé’s greatest works.
Celebrate Easter with an Elite Title
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Why not see where a seated title takes you this Easter?