The Queen is stepping down from the Holy Day church service and will be replaced by Prince Charles

The monarch will be represented at the Easter event by the Prince of Wales

The Queen has pulled out of the annual Holy Day church service and will be represented for the first time by the Prince of Wales, Buckingham Palace has said.

It will only be the fifth time the Queen has missed the Royal Maundy in her reign since 1956.

Every year on Maundy Thursday, the 95-year-old normally visited various cathedrals and abbeys to distribute special Saint money to pensioners.

The service commemorates Jesus washing the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper.

Queen Elizabeth II distributes the Saint’s money during the Royal Maundy Service

Queen Elizabeth II distributed Maundy Money to pensioners in 1984

Queen Elizabeth II distributed Maundy Money to pensioners in 1984

The announcement of this year’s absence comes nearly a month after the monarch, who turns 96 this month, missed Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey.

She did, however, attend the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service two weeks ago.

The Queen now uses a stick regularly and remarked at a recent hearing in Windsor “Well as you can see I can’t move”.

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She has also just recovered from a bout of Covid in February and spent more than three months relying on doctors’ orders from October and performing only light duties after a night in hospital for testing.

The Palace said in a statement: “Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will represent Her Majesty The Queen at the Royal Maundy Service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor on Thursday 14 April.

“The Prince and Duchess will be greeted by the Dean of Windsor, the Very Reverend David Conner KCVO and the Lord High Almoner, the Very Reverend Dr John Inge.

“Their Royal Highnesses will be presented with bouquets at the start of the service, during which the Prince of Wales will distribute the Maundy’s money.

“After the service, the Prince and Duchess will proceed to the West Steps where an official photo will be taken of Their Royal Highnesses and the Royal Maundy party.”