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King prays that Christ’s foot-washing will inspire public to serve each other

28 March 2024

BBC/Sky/ITV News

Photograph of the King, released on Wednesday, taken during the recording of his message

Photograph of the King, released on Wednesday, taken during the recording of his message

THE offer of friendship shown by Jesus to his disciples when he washed their feet is an example from which the nation “benefits greatly” in times of need, the King has said in a pre-recorded message for Maundy Thursday.

His audio message, recorded in mid-March, was played during a service at Worcester Cathedral on Maundy Thursday, where the Queen distributed the Royal Maundy gifts on his behalf. The King is currently undergoing treatment for cancer (News, 9 February).

He read the first lesson (John 13.1–15), before relaying a personal message.

The tradition of presenting alms, he said, had its origin in the life of Jesus, “who knelt before his disciples and, to their great surprise, washed their travel-weary feet. And, as we have just heard, in doing so, he deliberately gave to them and to us all an example of how we should serve and care for each other.”

The UK, he said, was “blessed by all the different services that exist for our welfare. But over and above these organisations and their selfless staff, we need — and benefit greatly — from those who extend the hand of friendship to us, especially in a time of need.”

The King continued: “The 150 men and women who have been chosen today to receive the Maundy Money from my wife are wonderful examples of such kindness; of going way beyond the call of duty and of giving so much of their lives to the service of others in their communities.

“This act of worship, here in Worcester Cathedral, reminds me of the pledge I made at the beginning of the Coronation Service: to follow Christ’s example ‘not to be served but to serve’. That I have always tried to do and continue to do, with my whole heart.

“It is my special prayer today that our Lord’s example of serving one another might continue to inspire us and to strengthen all our communities.”

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, said that it was “an honour” to welcome the Queen to the cathedral. “This is an immensely special service, and I know it will mean a huge amount to those who have been chosen to receive the coins, all of whom will have given years of service to their local communities.”

It was announced on Thursday that the King would attend the Easter morning service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. It has previously been announced that the Prince and the Princess of Wales and their children would be absent. The Princess is also undergoing treatment for cancer (News, 22 March).

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