Prince Charles and Camilla step in for the Queen for traditional Easter service

Her Majesty usually attends the Royal Maundy service

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have represented the Queen at the traditional Royal Maundy service at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Stepping out on Thursday in the place of the monarch, who usually always attends the church service, Charles and Camilla appeared in high spirits.

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They were welcomed by the Dean of Windsor, the Right Reverend David Conner, who gave the address at Prince Philip's moving service of thanksgiving last month, before taking their seats inside the chapel with the rest of the congregation. The Prince told the congregation of his mother: "She's close by and would want me to extend to you her greetings."

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In keeping with tradition, Charles and Camilla were presented with nosegays – sweet-smelling bouquets – which in centuries past were used to ward off unpleasant smells during the ceremony.

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Camilla and Charles stepped in for the Queen on Thursday

The Royal Maundy service is an important fixture in the royal calendar and the Queen is usually tasked with distributing Maundy money to those who have made a significant contribution to their community. This ancient duty fell to Prince Charles at this year's service.

Charles distributed the Maundy coins to 96 men and 96 women – as the Queen will be 96 this year, celebrating her birthday on 21 April. Each recipient received two purses, one red and one white.

The Duchess looked elegant in a navy and white coat dress

The white purse was filled with uniquely minted Maundy money – silver 10p and 3p pieces – to the value of 96 pence. In the red pouch was a £5 coin and a 50p coin portraying the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Both coins have been newly minted this year.

Buckingham Palace announced last week that Her Majesty would not be taking part in the service. It is understood the Queen, who has been experiencing mobility issues, was unable to commit to the event and so the heir to the throne was asked to represent her.

The couple posed for a group photo after the service

The monarch has only missed the service four times before; the last time was in 1970 when the Queen Mother distributed the Maundy money on behalf of her daughter who was on tour in New Zealand.

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