Other Duties

The Queen with President Nelson Mandela at Windsor Castle, June 1998
© PA News Photo Library

Other duties

The Queen's other duties include:

  • Audiences with senior national figures of the UK and all other realms where The Queen is Head of State, including diplomats, clergy, armed forces' representatives, as well as politicians;

  • Receptions and regular luncheon parties attended by people who have made a contribution in different areas of national and international life;

The Queen with the Crown Prince of Qatar, Buckingham Palace, June 1998
© PA News Photo Library

  • Audiences with visiting heads of state on official visits, and with other foreign dignitaries;

On Remembrance Day each year, The Queen lays a wreath on the Cenotaph to honour those who died in the First and Second World Wars and other campaigns
© PA News Photo Library

  • The Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. This is held on the second Sunday in November, when the nation, led by The Queen, pays homage to those who died in the two world wars and in many other lesser conflicts this century. The Queen, other members of the Royal family and leaders of the country's political parties join representatives of the armed forces and ex-servicemen and women for the two-minute silence and the Last Post. The Queen then lays a wreath of poppies at the foot of the Cenotaph, followed by members of the Royal family, representatives of the political parties and high commissioners from the Commonwealth. A short religious service follows, and after the reveille and National Anthem The Queen departs. The war veterans then march past the Cenotaph to pay their respects to the fallen;

The Queen's Christmas Day Broadcast to the Commonwealth, 1960
© BBC/Crown

  • The Christmas Message given by The Queen on Christmas Day when she speaks to the people of the Commonwealth on television and radio. The first Royal Christmas Message was broadcast by George V in 1932 from Sandringham, with the opening words 'I speak now from my home and from my heart to you all'. The Queen made her first Christmas Broadcast on radio in 1952, and on television in 1957. Like her father and grandfather, The Queen used to broadcast her message live. From 1960, the Christmas Message has always been pre-recorded, and sent in advance to Commonwealth countries so that the Message can be broadcast at a convenient local time. The television programme incoporates material specially recorded during the preceding year;

On Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, The Queen follows the ancient tradition of giving away special coins, known as 'Maundy money'. One set of coins is given for each year of the Monarch's age. Here, The Queen is pictured with the participating clergy, the Yeomen of the Guard (who carry the Maundy gifts on dishes, from which The Queen distributes the Maundy money in traditional purses), and the Maundy children (selected from local schools) who attend her. They all carry nosegays of herbs, a tradition from the time when herbs were believed to be a guard against infection - Charles I distributed his Maundy in 1639 during a plague outbreak
© Richard Gilliard

  • The presentation of 'Maundy money' on Maundy Thursday each year at one of the cathedrals or abbeys, to male and female pensioners from the local community, in recognition of their service to their community and their church. ('Maundy' is derived from the command or mandatum by Christ at the Last Supper, to love one another.)

    The tradition of the Sovereign giving money to the poor dates from the 13th century. The Sovereign also used to give food and clothing (later changed to a gift of money), and even washed the recipients' feet - this varied from Sovereign to Sovereign, the last Monarch to do so was James II.

    The number of recipients is related to the Sovereign's age: in 1998, there were 72 recipients at Portsmouth Cathedral for the Maundy Service attended by The Queen. The Royal Maundy Service used to take place in London; The Queen decided that the service should take place at a different cathedral every year, chosen from throughout the country. The Queen has distributed Maundy on all but four occasions since coming to the throne in 1952.

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