Queen Camilla Fills in for King Charles at Traditional Ceremony in a Royal First

Queen Camilla Fills in for King Charles at Traditional Ceremony in a Royal First

The queen consort’s appearance at the Royal Maundy Service made history.

Queen Consort Camilla has made history with her latest public appearance.

Camilla has been filling in for her husband, King Charles, in a number of engagements as he takes a step back from his typical royal duties to undergo treatment for cancer, and her most recent fill-in on Thursday, March 28, is a royal first.

The queen not only attended but led the annual Royal Maundy Service at Worcester Cathedral this year—a royal tradition typically headed by the monarch. In fact, this marks the first time since its inception, dating back to 600 A.D., that a consort has taken the lead, according to the Daily Mail.

The service is meant to symbolize the Last Supper, where Jesus washed the feet of disciples on the day before Good Friday. As the head of the Anglican Church, the monarch traditionally thanks an equal number of men and women with gifts to thank them for their Christian services to the church and the community.

Each year, a number of men and women amounting to the monarch’s age are honored. This year, 75 men and 75 women were presented with the traditional gifts, which include Maundy Money, a set of special coins that still feature Queen Elizabeth’s coronation portrait, though the image on the current currency has changed four times since then.

On Thursday, Camilla presented the recipients with two pouches each—one containing regular currency to symbolize a historic sovereign gift of food and clothing, and one containing the special coins, also amounting up to the monarch’s age. While they are legal currency, recipients tend to hold on to them.

While King Charles did not appear in person, he did pre-record an audio message to air during the ceremony, which called on Jesus’ “example of how we should serve and care for each other” and emphasized the power of friendship, “especially in a time of need,” which may be taken as a callout to those who have been driving conspiracy theories and criticizing the royal family amid his and Kate Middleton’s cancer battles.

He is expected to make his first major appearance following his diagnosis at Easter Sunday service.

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