Leading Article: Blair's foot-washing Maundy photo-op

Share
Related Topics
A "REGULAR and colourful event in the royal calendar", in the words of Buckingham Palace, will take place at Portsmouth Cathedral this morning. The Queen will give 142 of her subjects (one man and one woman for each of her 71 years) their "Maundy money" - pounds 5.50 and some silver Maundy coins.

The ceremony recalls the Last Supper when, according to St John, Jesus rose from the table, laid aside his garments, girded himself with a towel and proceeded to wash the feet of his disciples. Afterwards he gave them a command, or mandatum (hence Maundy) to love one another. Mediaeval English monarchs and their successors assumed the role of Christ and demonstrated their humility by washing the feet of their poorest subjects. King John is known to have taken part at Knaresborough in Yorkshire in 1210. Queen Elizabeth I made additional gifts of cloth, salmon, herrings and claret to the poor. Changes and omissions were rare. In 1639 Charles I did not wash the feet of the poor because of the plague. Understandable enough. But William III delegated the washing of feet to someone called the "High Almoner". The custom died out altogether and the money was introduced soon after.

Now, may we modestly propose, the time has come to exploit - sorry - reform this ancient ritual. As the first anniversary of his election approaches we are reminded of the words of Mr Blair: "The people are the masters. We are the servants of the people." What better way to symbolise this - and counter charges of arrogance - than to modernise and transfer the Maundy photo-op, feet and all, to the Government? First, abolish the Maundy money - an outdated universal benefit, a "handout to the poor". Then Harriet Harman could round up a representative "focus group" of single parents, the disabled and the homeless. Mr Blair could (after they'd been well scrubbed by the likes of Peter Mandelson or Lord Irvine) do as King James II did and "wipe the feet of poor men with wonderful humility".

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Inside Sales - OTE to £45,000

£25000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a leading supplier of bu...

Recruitment Genius: Installation Engineer - Driveway

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative, fast growing f...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Project Manager - Technical

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking for a Jun...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne  

I'm against Right-to-Buy because no government should force a charity to sell its assets

Bob Kerslake
 

Charles Kennedy: Pragmatic, shrewd, and tactically brilliant

Sean O'Grady
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral