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Queen Camilla stands in for Charles at ancient Royal Maundy ceremony as King shares Easter message

Queen Camilla stands in for Charles at ancient Royal Maundy ceremony as King shares Easter message

Queen Camilla stood in for the King at the ancient Royal Maundy ceremony in Worcester on Thursday, marking the first time a consort performed the duty on behalf of the monarch.

Maundy recipients and members of the public gave their well wishes to the King and the Princess of Wales as they met the Queen, who handed out ceremonial coins to people recognised for their community service in the traditional Easter service.

While her arrival was dampened by the shouts of Republic protestors, who had gathered outside the cathedral and loudly chanted ‘Down with the Crown’, the rest of the ceremony proceeded as planned.

Her Majesty, 76, was met on arrival by at Worcester Cathedral by the Lord-Lieutenant Mrs Beatrice Grant and the Bishop of Worcester, The Right Reverend John Inge, who is also Lord High Almoner in charge of the Maundy service.

Camilla was presented with a small bouquet of flowers, traditionally called the Nosegay, which, on request of the King, had been made by local volunteers who had picked the flowers from their garden.

Before the Maundy gifting began, the congregation listened to an audio message from the King, in which he expressed his ‘great sadness’ to miss the service.

Queen Camilla listened alone at the front of the cathedral, with her close friend the Marchioness of Lansdowne seated nearby, while many bowed their heads as King Charles’s voice echoed through the building.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

In a spectacle of tradition and pageantry, Camilla then began the Maundy ritual - usually done by the Monarch - of handing out specially minted coins to 75 men and 75 women, the number reflecting the age of the King.

One recipient, 72-year-old Norman Tomlinson, who volunteers with his local church as well as a hospice in Nottingham, said afterwards: “This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I said to her, ‘I hope the King gets well soon and your daughter-in-law as well’. She said: ‘thank you very much’.”

Bishop Inge then gave a blessing to the King in which he said he hoped Camilla would “convey to him our love and respects”.

Camilla, who was wearing a leopard print chiffon dress and cream cashmere coat by Fiona Clare, a Lock and Co hat, boots from Russell and Bromley and gold and sapphire brooches, then signed the Cathedral’s visitors’ book before posing for a photograph with the Royal Maundy Party.

Aides then made the call to proceed with the planned walkabout to greet the large crowd who had gathered outside the cathedral despite heavy rain during the service.

With the weather lifting just in time, and the Republic protestors having left, Queen Camilla was welcomed by large cheers from around 300 people who had waited to see her.

Sheila Clark, 66, gifted the Queen a posy of flowers, a picture of Charles and Camilla taken at Scottish Highland Braemar Games, and a card for the Princess of Wales.

 (Justin Tallis/PA Wire)
(Justin Tallis/PA Wire)

Ms Clark, a retired teacher from Glasgow, said she wrote in the card that she hoped “Kate's getting on well, [that] I'm sorry to hear about her illness and hoping Kate gets peace now to recover.”

She added: “I just wanted to come and see the Queen, I've followed her for many many years, and just to let her know that I'm thinking of her. I wrote to her some weeks ago and I got a lovely cardback from her and something from the King as well.”

Camilla also spoke to Laura Skrzynskr, 58, who lives in London but is originally from the US, who said: ‘I told Camilla to send her good wishes to the King for me and to the Princess of Wales - and Iwished her a happy Easter.

“I'm a royalist, we don't have a royal family back in America, but I like it here.” Queen Camilla also wished Happy Easter to 3-year-oldDarcey Craigie and shook the hand of her father Mike, 35, who lives in Worcester.

He said after: “That was an amazing experience. Darcey has been very excited to meet the Queen. We love the monarchy and it was lovely for Camilla to come and meet the people. We hope the King feels better soon, and Catherine too.’

Others in the crowd said: ‘Thank you for coming on a horrible day,’ to which Camilla cheerfully replied: ‘But it’s stopped raining here!’

The Royal Maundy service is an ancient ceremony that originated in the commandment Christ gave after washing the feet of his disciples the day before Good Friday.

It marks one of the most significant royal events that King Charles has missed since his diagnosis.