Queen Camilla stepped in for her husband, King Charles III​, at the Royal Maundy service on Thursday, March 28, but she was greeted by a group of protestors.

The decision to have Camilla, 76, replace Charles, 75, at the service wasn’t a popular one. The queen was met with a slew of protestors chanting, “Down with the crown!” when she arrived at Worcester Castle. Protestors also held signs reading “Down with the crown,” as well as ones that read, “Abolish the Monarchy.” The group was reported to be part of an anti-monarchy group named Republic, according to Metro.

While Charles takes a step back from some of his royal duties as he battles cancer, Camilla distributed the Royal Maundy gifts at the Royal Maundy Service at Worcester Cathedral on Thursday, March 28.

The event is a longstanding tradition that dates back to 600 A.D. However, Camilla was the first consort to ever take on the duty. Even though Charles wasn’t able to attend the event, he recorded a message beforehand to be played at the service.

“The 150 men and women who have been chosen today to receive the Maundy Money from my wife are wonderful examples of such kindness; of going way beyond the call of duty and of giving so much of their lives to the service of others in their communities,” Charles said in the message, along with some verses from the book of John in the Bible.

The Maundy service occurs every year on the Thursday before Easter Sunday, and according to the royal family’s official website, “Every Maundy Thursday, the Monarch distributes special Maundy money to local pensioners in a service which commemorates Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper.”

Queen Camilla Faces Protestors at Royal Maundy Service
John Rainford-Pool / Getty Images

While Charles wasn’t present at this year’s Royal Maundy service, the palace confirmed on Tuesday, March 26, that he would be in attendance for the upcoming Easter service on Sunday, March 31. The gathering is typically held for senior royals, but this year’s service would be scaled back, according to Reuters.

Camilla stepping in doesn’t come as a surprise as the royal family has recently faced some health concerns. In January, Charles went to the hospital to treat a benign prostate issue, but Buckingham Palace later confirmed that cancer was detected.

“His Majesty has today commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties,” a statement from Buckingham Palace said. “Throughout this period, His Majesty will continue to undertake State business and official paperwork as usual.”

The statement continued, “The King is grateful to his medical team for their swift intervention, which was made possible thanks to his recent hospital procedure. He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible.”

The palace did not specify the type of cancer Charles had, but a source exclusively revealed to In Touch on March 22, that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Along with the king, Princess Kate Middleton also revealed she was battling cancer. Kate, 42, announced her diagnosis in a statement on March 22.

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