The monarch typically attends an Easter Sunday service at St. George's Chapel alongside the rest of the royal family

By Erin Hill
April 11, 2020 01:20 PM
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Queen Elizabeth
| Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

While Queen Elizabeth typically spends Easter at Windsor Castle, this year’s celebration is full of changes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Queen and husband Prince Philip, 98, may be at their Windsor Castle home for Easter, but the monarch, 93, is marking the holiday differently by sending out a statement to the people of the U.K. and across the Commonwealth instead of greeting well-wishers in person at a church service.

“Many religions have festivals which celebrate light overcoming darkness. Such occasions are often accompanied by the lighting of candles. They seem to speak to every culture, and appeal to people of all faiths and of none. They are lit on birthday candles and to mark family anniversaries when we gather happily around a source of light, it unites us. As darkness falls on the Saturday before Easter Day, many Christians would normally light candles together,” the monarch said.

“In church, one light would pass to another, spreading slowly and then more rapidly as more candles are lit. It’s a way of showing how the good news of Christ’s resurrection has been passed on from the first Easter by every generation until now. This year, Easter will be different for many of us but by keeping apart, we keep others safe,” she continued.

“But Easter isn’t canceled, indeed, we need Easter as much as ever. The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose and we can all take heart from this. We know that coronavirus will not overcome us. As dark as death can be — particularly for those suffering with grief — light and life are greater. May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future. I wish everyone of all faiths and denominations a blessed Easter,” the Queen concluded.

Along with other members of the royal family, the Queen usually attends a service on Easter Sunday at St. George’s Chapel (where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wed in 2018). Last year, Harry made the short trip from his Frogmore Cottage home in Windsor to attend the service with just weeks to go before his son Archie was born.

Crowds often gather around Windsor to welcome the royals before the service beings. Afterwards, the monarch receives a bouquet of flowers from local children.

While the Easter weekend is usually spent privately with her family, the Queen does step out to distribute Maundy Money each year on the Thursday before Easter. This year, she was forced to break royal tradition and cancel the service at St. George’s Chapel. She instead sent the Sovereign’s gift, which recognizes service in the community, by mail.

While the Queen doesn’t take part in an official Easter egg hunt at the castle, in the past, several of the royal palaces have hosted egg hunts and painting workshops to celebrate Easter. Prince William and Kate Middleton also host one for their children at their home.

Prince Charles also found a way to connect with the public on Easter Sunday by recording a gospel reading that will be released on Westminster Abbey’s podcast.

On April 5, Queen Elizabeth made a rare televised address amid the pandemic, expressing her gratitude for the efforts people are taking to stop the spread of the virus and acknowledged the severe challenges being faced by families across the world.

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The monarch also emphasized the need to band together as a country, united in fortitude and strength.

“Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it,” she said. “I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say the Britons of this generation were as strong as any. That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country.”