The Queen is expected to miss the traditional Easter Sunday service this weekend, Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday as Prince Charles distributed Maundy money on her behalf.
Charles and Camilla will attend the Sunday service, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace told The Independent that it would not confirm which members of the royal family are attending, but the Queen is not expected to be there.
At Thursday’s service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, Charles followed the tradition of presenting Maundy coins to those who have provided Christian service to the elderly, worked tirelessly during the pandemic or been a comfort to those in need,
The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, speaking in his role as Lord High Almoner, said the Queen had a copy of the order of service and a list of Maundy money recipients and details about them.
He told the congregation before the service began: “She’s close by and would want me to extend to you her greetings.”
Charles handed out the Maundy coins to 96 men and 96 women – as the Queen will be 96 this year, celebrating her birthday on 21 April.
Muriel Davies, 99, who served in the Women’s Land Army during the Second World War, was recognized for her 50 years of fundraising for the RNLI in her home town of Bolton.
She said after the service: “It was lovely meeting Prince Charles, he said ‘it’s your birthday, I wish you a happy birthday for July – it’s lovely that you’re here today’.”
Ms Davies will celebrate her 100th birthday on 9 July and, when asked if she missed the Queen, she joked about Charles deputising, saying: “I was glad to see anybody.”
There have been just four other occasions where a member of the royal family has stood in for the Queen at the Royal Maundy service. The last time was in 1970, when the Queen Mother stood in while the monarch was on tour in New Zealand.
The Royal Maundy is an ancient ceremony that originated in the commandment Christ gave after washing the feet of his disciples the day before Good Friday.
Earlier this week, the queen revealed that her bout of Covid left her feeling “very tired and exhausted”, just over a month after she tested positive for the virus.
Speaking at a virtual engagement with staff and patients of the Royal London Hospital, the Queen added: “This horrible pandemic. It’s not a nice result.”