Princess Beatrice shares the Maundy stage with Queen
The Royal Maundy ceremony -- which takes place on the Thursday of Easter Week -- has been going for at least seven centuries, but there was a decidedly extra-special aura around the 2012 edition.
First, of course, this is Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee year, and a larger than usual crowd lined the streets and watched from windows around York Minster as the monarch arrived for the traditional handing out of money to a group of pensioners.
Second, there was fresh lineup for the royal procession. While the Queen has been sharing the stage recently with Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, this time she brought along her granddaughter, Princess Beatrice.
The Maundy tradition is deep-rooted in religion, a symbolic act meant to replicate the servitude exhibited by Jesus when he washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper.
Usually, one UK diocese is selected for the Maundy money, but this year all 44 Christian dioceses were represented. There were 86 women and 86 men -- one for each of the Queen’s 86 years and all senior citizens -- who were given money in recognition of their community services. (They won't get rich. There are two purses of Maundy money -- a white one containing 86p in Maundy coins and a red purse containing £5 coin and a newly-minted 50p piece.)
Following the service, the Queen and Prince Philip toured the Yorkshire Museum.
Princess Beatrice of York, the 23-year-old daughter of Prince Andrew, is not a regular for royal engagements, though she has stepped out from the shadows on occasion. Most remember her for the outlandish hat she wore to William and Kate's wedding, but on Thursday she played the appropriate princess part very well.
Beatrice and her younger sister Eugenie have recently become the centre of a clash between their father and the royal protection service. Because of cutbacks -- and the wish of Prince Charles to keep the Royal Family a slimmed-down operation -- Beatrice no longer has Scotland Yard protection and Eugenie will lose hers after she graduates this year.
That has raised the blood pressure of Andrew, who has been fighting a losing battle to keep his girls under the taxpayer-funded protective umbrella, even though they have no regular official duties. It's reported that Andrew will be forking out more than $350,000 this year from his own pocket to protect Beatrice.
Of course, that doesn't apply to events when Beatrice is accompanying the Queen. Good ol' Grandma to the rescue again ....
Queen Elizabeth hands out the traditional Royal Maundy money at York Minster. Specially minted silver coins (right) were handed to 86 women and 86 men -- one for each of the Queen 's 86 years -- in recognition of their services to the Church and their communities in a long-standing Holy Week tradition. (AP)
The Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by Janet Barnes, CEO of York Museums Trust, studies a mannequin on display as part of an exhibition of medieval costumes designed by York College Students, during a visit to the Yorkshire Museum after the Royal Maundy Service. (Getty Images)