Saturday, 26 March 2016

Royal Easter traditions under way

Easter is celebrated in different ways across Europe and that is reflected in the ways that it's marked by the continent's royals. And as Easter Sunday itself approaches, some of the regal traditions associated with this time of the year are already under way.  Here's a look at how this year's royal Easter celebrations are unfolding.

We start in Monaco where Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene have attended the traditional procession that takes place on Good Friday.

The royal couple watched the event from the balcony of the Prince's Palace. The procession traces its roots back to the 13th century.

Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco at the traditional Good Friday procession

Another royal tradition which began in the 1200s took place on Maundy Thursday when the Queen attended the traditional Maundy service, held this year at St George's Chapel, Windsor.

Since the 13th century, the reigning monarch has distributed money on Maundy Thursday though at the very start of the practice they also handed out food and clothes. Up until the reign of James II, the monarch also washed the recipients' feet to commemorate the actions of Jesus at the Last Supper, marked on Maundy Thursday.

Now, the Queen hands out coins to older people from the community local to the church where the service takes place. There is one man and one woman for each year of the Queen's age and each receives a bag of coins whose number again matches the royal age.  So this year it was 90 all round as the Queen gets ready for this landmark birthday.

Meanwhile, Easter holidays are under way for royals around Europe with Queen Sofia of Spain already in Palma where she will join King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia, Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofia at the traditional Easter Sunday mass tomorrow. Infanta Elena attended the traditional Cristo de los Alabarderos procession in Madrid which leaves from the Royal Palace.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Prince Henrik are now at the Marselisborg Castle in Aarhus where they will pass the Easter holidays. Before they departed, Queen Margrethe attended the Royal Vejsenhus Easter Concert held at the Christiansborg Palace Chapel.

Queen Margrethe of Denmark attends a traditional Easter service

Easter Sunday will bring more appearances - the traditions of this part of the year are well and truly under way.

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