In case you’ve been living in a cave, you will probably be well aware that today our sovereign HM Queen Elizabeth II will be visiting our dear City of York. This is a landmark year for the Queen as she celebrates her diamond jubilee and a momentous year for York, being the 800th anniversary of the granting of York’s charter. This document was signed in 1212 by one of the Queen’s distant ancestors, King John, freeing the town from direct royal control. The Queen is of course here to distribute Maundy money, and will only be signing the Minster’s visitors book. She is following in her ancestor’s footsteps however, as King John, seems to be the first monarch recorded as doling out Maundy money, in 1210, in the nearby market town of Knaresborough. Maundy Thursday, monarchy and York therefore have a gratifyingly secure associated, cemented by history and tradition, and as the three once more align we can feel proud to be part of this great continuation.
In the past Royal Maundy ended up getting fixed in London, and it is only the present Queen who has taken it “on the road.” Royal Maundy last took place here forty years ago in 1972. Of course the Queen has visited York numerous times, last vising York when Royal Ascot temporarily relocated here in 2005. This was of course more pleasure than work, with the Queen residing at the Archbishop’s palace, and attending races roundly labelled a great success.
While the Queen visited before her accession, her first official visit was in July 1957, which was attended by multitudes of York citizenry in spite of weather so inclement the al fresco Mystery Plays to which the Queen was invited were rained off.
As usual the Queen will be accompanied by her consort Prince Philip, but this time with the addition of her granddaughter, Princess Beatrice of York, whose title makes her an apt addition to the entourage.
The Queen will as per tradition stop a Micklegate bar and request the Lord Mayor’s permission to be granted entrance. The Town Clerk will read a proclamation, dusted off and slightly adapted from a version given to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The service itself will take place at the Minster at 11 am, after which there will be a reception by the Dean and Chapter and a civic lunch with the great and the good, after which the Queen will be given a tour around the Yorkshire Museum.
So, if you’re free on it might be fun to pop along, watch the pageantry , wave a Union flag, drink in the patriotism and reflect on the meaning of Easter. Let’s hope the weather, which has started to misbehave of late, meets us half way.
For the Queen’s full itinerary click here.