Whereas the Pope is Head of the Catholic Church and can therefore only be a Catholic, the British Monarch is Head of the Church of England and can therefore only be Church of England (which is simple logic), which therefore makes a mockery of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's silly attempts to end the "discriminatory" law which states that Catholics cannot become Monarch, just to get much-needed votes from the Catholic community (if it's discriminatory for a Catholic to be prevented from being King or Queen then the prevention of Protestants becoming Pope is similarly discriminatory).
The service was conducted by the Dean of Windsor, the Right Reverend David Conner, and included hymns This Joyful Eastertide, Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem, Jesus Christ Is Risen Today and Good Christian Men, Rejoice and Sing.
The Queen also gave out Maundy Money on Thursday, in a uniquely British ceremony which has taken place by the British monarch for centuries, in which the monarch gives special coins (which are, though, legal tender) to the deserving needy. The amount each person is given depends on their age and, until the 18th century, only people of the same sex as the monarch could receive it, though nowadays that's no longer the case, and the number of people receiving Maundy Money, and the amount they receive, is the same number as the Queen's age (there were 83 people receiving 83p each on Thursday as the Queen is almost 83 years old).
This year, each recipient will be given two purses – a red purse containing a £5 coin celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Accession of Henry VIII and a 50p coin to mark the founding of Kew Gardens, and a white purse containing 83p in Maundy coins because the Queen is 83 years old this year.
A small crowd, including foreign royal fans, gathered to see the Royal Family.
Queen at Windsor for Easter Sunday
The Queen was joined by members of the Royal Family at an Easter Sunday service at Windsor Castle today.
12 Apr 2009
The Queen receives flowers from Holly Goldsmith, 11, and Elise Frost, 14 after the Easter service in St George's Chapel at Windsor Photo: PA
Princess Anne wore an unusual straw-style hat which featured miniature fruit on the rear. Photo: PA
While The Queen opted for a more traditional number in pale blue. Photo: PA
The Queen and Duke Edinburgh leave the Easter service Photo: PA
The St George's Chapel service was also attended by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Princess Royal and her husband Tim Laurence, the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
The Queen, who arrived at the chapel in a car with the Countess of Wessex, wore a pale blue and white checked suit and blue hat.
The Countess wore a cream suit and feathered hat, while Princess Anne, who walked the short distance to the chapel with the rest of the royal party, wore a coffee-coloured outfit with a wicker hat.
None of the Queen's grandchildren was present.
The Matins service, conducted by the Dean of Windsor, the Right Reverend David Conner, included hymns This Joyful Eastertide, Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem, Jesus Christ Is Risen Today and Good Christian Men, Rejoice and Sing.
A small crowd of royal fans braved the drizzly weather and gathered on the grass opposite the castle to see the Royal Family.
Sheila MacDonald, 70, from Egham, Surrey, said: "This is only the second time I've come here. It's just nice to be able to see them so close up.
"I'd come out whatever the weather."
Michael Abbott, who had brought children Grace, six, and Benjamin, four, from Ipswich, for the day, said: "We saw the Queen giving out Maundy Money on Thursday. To see her twice in one week is quite special for the children."
After leaving the chapel, the Queen was presented with posies of yellow and pink flowers from Holly Goldsmith, daughter of the housekeeper at Frogmore House, and 14-year-old Elise Frost, the granddaughter of a military knight.
Holly, 11, said afterwards: "I was excited to give flowers to the Queen. She was nice, and I spoke to the Duke of Edinburgh."
The Queen waved and smiled at well-wishers as she left in a car with the Duke.
Grace Abbott, who gave flowers to Princess Anne, said: "She said Happy Easter and asked where we were from. It was nice to meet her."
Royal fan William Smith, from Yorktown, Virginia, said: "It was unbelievable to see the Queen. It was almost surreal for us."
His wife Esther added: "We were surprised we could just come to the service. But we did expect more people would have been here to see the Royal Family."
What once happened in England on Maundy Thursday?
In England, the custom of washing feet by the Monarch was carried out until 1689.
Up until then the King or Queen would wash the feet of the poor on Maundy Thursday in Westminster Abbey. (You should, however, note that the feet were first washed by Yeoman of the Laundry before the monarch had to wash them and kiss them!). Food and clothing were also handed out to the poor.
Maundy Thursday Ceremony
In Britain today, the Queen follows a very traditional role of giving Maundy Money to a group of pensioners. The tradition of the Sovereign giving money to the poor dates from the 13th century, from the reign of Edward I.
At one time recipients were required to be of the same sex as the Sovereign, but since the eighteenth century they have numbered as many men and women as the Sovereign has years of age.
Every year on this day, the Queen attends a Royal Maundy service in one of the many cathedrals throughout the country. 'Maundy money' is distributed to male and female pensioners from local communities near the Cathedral where the Service takes place.
Yeomen of the Guards
Yeomen of the Guards carry the Maundy Money in white and red leather purses on golden alms trays on their heads.
From the fifteenth century, the amount of Maundy Money handed out, and the number of people receiving the coins, is related to the years of the Sovereign’s life.
In 2008, the white leather purse contained silver Maundy coins matching the Queen's age in pence - 82p, while the red purse contains ordinary money.
In 2009, each recipient will be given two purses – a red purse containing a £5 coin celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Accession of Henry VIII and a 50p coin to mark the founding of Kew Gardens, and a white purse containing 83p in Maundy coins because the Queen is 83 years old this year.
The men and women who receive the coins are all retired pensioners recommended by clergy and ministers of all denominations, in recognition of service to the Church and to the community.
What is Maundy Money?
Maundy coins are specially minted for the occasion and are legal tender and, as they are produced in such limited numbers, they are much sought after by collectors.
A complete set of Maundy money consists of:
groat (4p).....threepence (3p)....half-groat (2p).....a penny (1p)
Until 1820 ordinary silver coinage was used for the Maundy money, but from 1822 special coins were minted in values of 1, 2, 3, and 4 pence. The 4d coin was also known as a groat. Each set of Maundy money therefore contains 10 pence, and recipients are given an appropriate number of complete sets, plus a part set if necessary, to equal the sovereign's age.
The reverse designs of the coins have seen only one change since 1822: a slight alteration of the style of the crown and denomination numerals in Queen Victoria's golden jubilee year of 1887. The dimensions of the coins have been fixed since 1822, although their silver content has changed twice
Victorian Maundy coins are quite common, as anybody could order a set from a bank; however in 1908, King Edward VII ordered that they should only be supplied to their recipients and people connected with the service, so coins dated 1909 and later are considerably scarcer than those which preceded them—although of course the quantity increases as the monarch ages. In 2005 the total mintage of each denomination was 1,685. In 2006 Queen Elizabeth II turned 80, and thus 80 men and 80 women each received 80 pence in Maundy Money on April 13 at Guildford Cathedral; in that year they also received a special £5 coin which commemorated her 80th birthday, as well as a 50p coin commemorating 150 years of the Victoria Cross.
Under a special privilege granted by Queen Elizabeth I, students at Westminster School also received Maundy coins for distinguished work.
Maundy coins, in proof condition, were sold as part of a special silver proof set of all United Kingdom coins in 2000 and in 2006. They were also sold in gold as part of a special gold proof set of all United Kingdom coins in 2002, as part of the Golden Jubilee observances.
While Maundy recipients have long sold the coins to dealers at a premium, in recent years, individual recipients have taken to selling them on eBay.
Easter: What is Maundy Thursday? (external - login to view)