A historic event will be taking place in York later this year. On Thursday, 5th April, 2012, the Queen will be paying a special Royal visit to the city to celebrate Maundy Thursday. York Minster will play host to the traditional Royal Maundy ceremony, when the Queen will distribute Maundy money to pensioners from across the city and the United Kingdom.
Why is this visit so historic?
This visit comes in the year of the Diamond Jubilee, when the Queen will be recognised for the 60 years she has served as the reigning monarch. To coincide with this, York is also celebrating its 800th anniversary since being granted city status. A series of events marking the occasion will be held across the city throughout the year. On the day of the Royal Maundy service, the Queen is expected to enter York through Micklegate Bar, the traditional Royal entrance to the city. Here she will be welcomed by the Lord Mayor and York’s town clerk and cheered on by local residents and visitors, before proceeding to York Minster to participate in the Royal Maundy service. The Royal visit in April will be the Queen’s first visit to York since Royal Ascot in 2005. The Queen last celebrated the Royal Maundy in York 40 years ago, in 1972.
What is the tradition behind Maundy Money?
The service taking place at York Minister is an annual ceremony which dates back to the 1200s, when it was customary at Easter time for the reigning monarch to give out Maundy Money to those in need. The service takes place at a different venue each year. Beneficiaries are usually chosen from the local area and are made up of those who have made outstanding contributions to charities and society. This year, however, the Queen has requested that recipients be chosen from across the United Kingdom, together with those from within York, as a special way of marking her Diamond Jubilee. For five hundred years, the number of coins dispersed and the number of recipients has been equal to the age of the monarch. This year, the Diocese of York has been tasked with choosing 86 men and 86 women to receive the Maundy money.
How will the Royal visit benefit York?
With London taking centre stage this year when hosting the Olympic Games, the focus will firmly be on to York during the Royal visit in April. City and Church leaders are honoured that the Queen has chosen York as the place to conduct the Royal Maundy service during such a special year for the city.
It is hoped that the Queen’s visit will lead to a significant increase in visitor numbers. Tourism officials in York are poised to launch many marketing and promotional activities to encourage more people to come to the city to mark its anniversary. The occasion should also provide a welcome financial boost for York and businesses that depend on tourism.