91-year-old Andover retiree June Harris has been celebrating with friends after she was chosen to receive the honour of a Royal ‘Maundy Money’ gift from Her Majesty The Queen, which was presented to her by the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle.
On Wednesday 27th April a special party was held at Chantry Lodge in Andover, where June lives independently, to celebrate with her friends and share stories about her experience. Local Vicar Chris Brandish from St Mary’s Anglican Church was there to explain more about the Royal Maundy Tradition, explaining that the Bishop of Basingstoke nominated June to be a recipient of the Maundy Money, due to her long and devoted service to the Church in many roles, including being the Parish Secretary to this day. Also present was another recipient from Andover, Derrick Norton.
The Royal Maundy is a tradition involving the distribution of alms or special coins on the Thursday of Holy Week, which has been upheld by Kings and Queens of England since the 13th Century. Each year the number of nominated recipients matches the age of the monarch, so June was one of just 96 men and 96 women in the whole country to receive the honour.
June attended a ceremony at Windsor Castle on Maundy Thursday with her friend Eileen to receive a special purse of minted coins from The Prince of Wales, after which they both attended a food and drinks reception in the Castle’s impressive state apartments.
Reflecting on her experience at Windsor Castle, June said: “We had a wonderful day, the sun was shining and the Chapel of St George was filled with red and gold. It was unfortunate that the Queen was unable to attend, since the service involves a lot of walking, but the Prince of Wales took her place on this occasion. The Lord High Almoner opened the service, which was also attended by the Yeomen of the Guard, the Knights of Windsor, and the Duchess of Cornwall.
“The Prince of Wales stopped in front of each recipient, presented their red and white purses to them, and said very quietly, ‘From Her Majesty The Queen’. I was particularly impressed that he managed to make each recipient feel that the message was just for them. We had an enjoyable time and everyone was most kind to us. It’s a day I will never forget!”
Lodge Manager Michael De Kock, who arranged a special cake for the occasion, added: “We’re all incredibly proud of June. She is a very active member of the community here, acting as Secretary of our Residents’ Association, volunteering with the local church and using her vast secretarial experience for many other roles in the wider community. It was wonderful to get together and celebrate her receiving this unique honour.”