On Thursday morning, King Charles III put on his black morning coat to celebrate Maundy Thursday, the Easter weekend celebration where the monarch gives special gifts to elderly members of the community. He and Queen Consort Camilla traveled to the York Minster, the cathedral in the Northern England city, to honor 74 people with the traditional maundy purses.
Like monarchs before him, the king upheld tradition by honoring a number of people equal to his current age with a red and white purse, but according to the palace, the gifts included one departure from tradition that reflects his passion for honoring Britain’s diversity. “The red purse will contain two commemorative coins, symbolizing the Sovereign’s historic gift of food and clothing,” a statement read. “This year, one will celebrate His Majesty’s forthcoming 75th birthday and the other will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Windrush Generation.” The Windrush, a ship that brought Jamaicans to the UK in 1948, is hailed as the symbol for a generation of immigration that reshaped the diversity and culture of the nation.
The event came one day after the palace sent out invitations to the May 6 coronation ceremony, which referenced “Queen Camilla.” Royal sources confirmed to Tatler that they would now be referring to her as the queen to match the status of previous consorts. During the Maundy Thursday event, Camilla wore a navy dress and hat, which she paired with a Chanel handbag and an Art Deco crystal brooch that once belonged to the Queen Mother, the UK’s last queen consort.
Though this is the first Maundy Thursday ceremony of Charles’s reign, he attended the 2022 mass at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor in Queen Elizabeth II’s stead, after she canceled due to illness. The late queen once wrote that the task was one of her “most rewarding duties,” and during her 70-year reign, she visited every cathedral in England to distribute the gifts. Her last Maundy Thursday event, when she was accompanied by Prince Eugenie, took place at St. George’s Chapel in 2019. The 2020 and 2021 ceremonies were canceled due to the pandemic, and the maundy money was sent through the mail instead.
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