Coronavirus: Charles joins podcast as Queen posts Maundy money due to service cancellation

Prince Charles will appear on a podcast to go out in lieu of Easter Sunday’s celebrations as his mother posted the Maundy money because the traditional service was cancelled due to coronavirus.

Charles was announced as one of the readers on the Westminster Abbey Easter Sunday podcast.

It comes as the Queen had to post the Maundy money this year to the 188 recipients, because of the closure of churches to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

The heir to the throne will read one of the gospel passages on the podcast which will be released on 12 April, as churches adapt to new ways to meet with buildings closed.

Queen Elizabeth II usually gives the Maundy money after the service. (Getty Images)

The prince will read John 20: 1-18, which recounts Mary Magdalene finding Jesus’ tomb empty on the morning he had risen.

Charles recorded the reading at Birkhall in Scotland earlier this week, Westminster Abbey said, and will be included alongside an address, anthems and prayers.

Read more: Easter Court: Why does the Queen go to Windsor and what does she do at Easter?

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle said: “Whilst the Abbey is closed, in the precincts, the life of prayer for the community of priests and lay people who live here continues. In Holy Week, we enter more and more deeply into God’s radical commitment to our shared humanity in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“We reflect each day on suffering, on death and on our hope. We pray for those around us for whom those things are a very vivid reality in this national crisis. We are immensely encouraged that His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales joins us as we greet the Risen Christ who shines as light in this darkness.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Queen says 'better days will return' as she addresses nation and Commonwealth

Every year Her Majesty carries out the tradition of distributing money to people to recognise their contributions to their communities and churches.

The special coins, which are legal tender but not in circulation, are usually given out at the Maundy Thursday service, which this year she was due to attend in St George’s Chapel in Windsor.

It forms the first part of her duties during Easter Court, but as all church buildings are closed to stop the spread of coronavirus, this year’s service was cancelled.

Each year, the number of coins and the number of recipients matches her age. She will turn 94 on 21 April and has given the gift to 94 men and 94 women.

The Queen giving the Maundy gift in Leicester in 2017. (Getty Images)

In a letter to recipients, she said: “This ancient Christian ceremony, which reflects Jesus’s instruction to his disciples to love one another, is a call to the service of others, something that has been at the centre of my life. I believe it is a call to service for all of us.

“It is one of my most rewarding duties as Sovereign to observe this highly significant ceremony at such an important point in the Christian calendar.

“I know that you, as a Recipient of this year’s Maundy Gift, will be as deeply disappointed as I am that it is not going ahead, while understanding the necessary decision in the current circumstances.”

She said she did not want the circumstances to prevent them receiving the gift, and that they and their families were in her thoughts.

Jim Byers, one of the recipients of the money usually given out in Windsor Castle. (Buckingham Palace)
Bill Allen, 100, who was a dispatch rider with General Montgomery in WWII, and is a loyal ambassador for the Royal British Legion. (Buckingham Palace)

Read more: Coronavirus: Royal Family postpones more engagements as UK enters effective lockdown

One recipient of the money is 101-year-old Thomas Brock, who is the oldest active bell-ringer in the world. He rings the bells at his local church, St Mary’s, in Sunbury-on-Thames, and has done since he was seven years old.

Another recipient is 100-year-old Bill Allen, from Chelmsford in Essex, who was a dispatch rider for Second World War General Montgomery and is a loyal ambassador for the Royal British Legion.

Jane Armstrong, 76, from Durham, was recognised for her work in Bishop Auckland running crisis support groups and foodbanks, and received an MBE from the Queen for community work in 1996.

Jane Armstrong, 76, from Durham with the letter and the Maundy money. (Buckingham Palace)
The specially-minted Maundy money was posted this year. (Buckingham Palace)

The men and women are chosen after being nominated by their local dioceses.

The purses filled with the Maundy gift were blessed at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace, a few weeks ago, and were then posted to recipients with the letter from the Queen.

Her Majesty has kept the Maundy tradition going every year of her reign, and has visited every cathedral in Britain to distribute the purses. The last one she visited was Leicester in 2017.

Easter for the Queen is usually a private family weekend, though she does attend church on Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday is usually a big family affair for the royals. (Getty images)

However this year, she will not be able to do so as churches were ordered to close by the government to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

With each family unit adhering to social distancing and isolation guidelines, there won’t be any family reunions either.

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Charles’ podcast appearance is a rare occurrence for the royals. Prince Harry was the first to appear on a podcast, when he was interviewed by Bryony Gordon, and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, also appeared on one with Giovanna Fletcher.

The Abbey said the audio recording by HRH The Prince of Wales will also be included in a Eucharist service for Easter Day released by Canterbury Cathedral.

The podcast will be released at 9am on Sunday morning.