An encounter with the Queen

On Maundy Thursday, 5th April last, I was one of 172 people who received the Royal Maundy Money from Her Majesty the Queen in York Minster. In her Diamond Jubilee year she wished this to be an ecumenical gathering. I had been nominated by the Archbishop of Cardiff, Most Rev George Stack, on behalf of the Knights of St Columba and the Catholics of Wales.

The occasion was a truly marvelous one. My wife accompanied me as my Companion and was seated behind me in the Cathedral. The day started with my wife and I going to the Minster where Jane waited in the queue for entrance. I made my way to the Assembly Rooms to report. My credentials were vetted by the Police and I was taken by one of the Stewards to my place No 133 were my name badge awaited me. “Peter Sims-Coomber, Archdiocese of Cardiff’. We were greeted by the Dean of York Minster, Dr Keith Jones and the Bishop of Manchester, Bishop Nigel McCullough, the Lord High AImoner. They both hoped that we would enjoy ourselves to the full and remember for the rest of our lives the wonderful occasion about to take place. The Wandsman then called for the persons who would be traveling up to the Minster by coach. We were then taken in batches of about 30 persons and walked up to the Minster running the gauntlet of the crowds either sides of the barriers. I walked up with a lady from Liverpool, she was getting the Maundy Money because she had been president of the Anglican Mothers Union in Liverpool. I wore my Papal Medal for all to see, nobody queried it. On our arrival at the Minster we made our way to our allotted seats getting a bit lost in the process.

When we were all settled the Dean gave us a talk and outlined points for the service. The organ was playing various voluntaries while we waited for Her Majesty and the rest of the Royal Party to arrive. On the stroke of eleven the Great West Doors were opened and the Royal Party arrived and processed down the center nave of the Cathedral while we sung “Praise to the Holiest in the Height”. The service had started, various prayers, versicle and a Psalm were said and we then stood for the Hymn “When I survey the wondrous Cross”. This was followed by the First Lesson about the Passover festival. Her Majesty then started the distribution of Maundy Gifts on the South Side of the Minster during which the choir sung various pieces. The Second Lesson followed which was about separating the sheep from the goats. The distribution of Maundy Gifts for the North side then started and I received mine while the Choir was singing “Zadok the Priest”. The responses and prayers were said by the Ecumenical visitors including our own Rt. Rev. Terence Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough. This was followed by the Hymn “My song is love unknown”, followed by the Lord’s Prayer.

The National Anthem was then sung by everybody and the Blessing was given by the Archbishop of York, Most Rev. Dr. John Sentamu. The Processions then started to leave the Cathedral. After a little time we were allowed to leave and go back to the Assembly Rooms for a lunch with the Dean and Chapter of York Minster. There were so many people in the street that it was a job to get there but we managed it and had a most enjoyable lunch. I saw a few people after the lunch with whom I had been seated and exchanged pleasantries with them before we departed for our hotel to change. As it was our first time in York we went on the York City Sightseeing Bus for a trip around the City. The day was rounded off by us going to the Mass of the Last Supper in the local Catholic Church in the evening. I would like to thank everybody for the most wonderful day in my life. I will always remember it.

Peter Sims-Coomber

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