Here is what I have found out about those fragrant nosegays carried by the Queen and others on Maundy Thursday. The Maundy tradition of giving alms (money) to the poor had it's start as far back as King Edward I, in the 13th century. Way back then, the monarch, like Christ before the Last Supper, actually washed the feet of the poor in his kingdom. However, the tradition of foot washing was halted in the 17th Century during the reign of James II.
As for the nosegays.. they too have a long tradition, as well as served a purpose in the early days of the Maundy services. The nosegays are always composed of fragrant flowers, freesias and daffodils usually are included in mass numbers. Fragrant... why you ask, well simply to keep the "smells" of the poor at bay during the foot washing and alms giving. I don't think the Queen has to worry too much about the odor of the poor these days, but the tradition of carrying the nosegays is a lovely one.
The official nosegay maker for the Queen, currently is Rosemary Mason. She received her royal warrant as nosegay maker to the Queen in 2008. Mrs. Mason also holds the secret receipt for the nosegays, apparently there is quite a bit more to be included each year than the freesia and daffodils. The nosegay maker only makes the nosegays this one day of the year and makes 12 nosegays, taking about 8 hours.
Royal Flower Tid-bit Bonus of the day... Worthy servants of the Church of England are the recipients of the Maundy money these days... but the number of recipients is significant. This morning in London, 85 men and 85 women received the bags of coins from the Queen. A man and a woman to count for each year of the Queen's life so far, which, as of this morning is, 85.
Photo Credit: This Is Leicetershire, Norcliffe Media Ltd., Maundy Thursday edition, Friday, April 10th, 2009.