Queen to grace Suffolk

SUFFOLK is today preparing to welcome Her Majesty the Queen for a Maundy Service in St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

Tom Potter

SUFFOLK is today preparing to welcome Her Majesty the Queen for a Maundy Service in St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

It will be the first time since her golden jubilee in 2002 that the head of state has visited the county - when her arrival by helicopter was awaited by thousands in Alexandra Park, Ipswich.

On April 9, the Queen will be accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh for the service on the last Thursday before Easter.


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The Royal visit to Bury St Edmunds will recognise the service of elderly people to their community and church and will include the distribution of the Royal Maundy to 83 men and 83 women - the same number as the Queen's age.

The tradition of the Sovereign giving sterling silver Maundy coins dates from the thirteenth century - when food and clothing were also distributed to the poor. However, the more outdated custom of washing the recipients' feet has not been performed by a monarch since James II.

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The Royal Maundy service used to take place in London, but early in her reign the Queen decided that the service should take place at a different cathedral every year. During Holy Week the Queen presents special Maundy money to local pensioners in a local cathedral or abbey.

Canon Michael Hampel, sub-dean of the cathedral, was thrilled to hear the Queen had selected at St Edmundsbury for the location of the Maundy service. He said: “We are delighted and honoured that the Queen has chosen to distribute the Royal Maundy in Suffolk, the first time this has happened at St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

“It will be a significant moment in the cathedral's history and in the life of the cathedral community.”

The history of the Maundy money tradition:

- The money giving custom has remained in much the same form since 1670 and the Queen has distributed Maundy on all but four occasions since coming to the throne in 1952.

- The Maundy coins have traditionally been struck in sterling silver, except for the brief interruptions of Henry VIII's debasement of the coinage and a change to 50 percent silver coins in 1920. The sterling silver standard was resumed following the Coinage Act of 1946.

- In 1971, when decimalisation took place, the face values of the coins were increased from old to new pence.

- The effigy of the Queen on ordinary circulating coinage has undergone three changes, but Maundy coins still bear the same portrait of Her Majesty prepared by Mary Gillick for the first coins issued in the year of her coronation in 1953.

- The word Maundy comes from the command or mandatum by Christ at the Last Supper, to love one another.

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