In keeping with the annual tradition to mark Holy Thursday before Easter, Queen Elizabeth II handed out unique coins during the Royal Maundy Service that was held this year in Derby Cathedral in central England.
Custom dictates that a monarch’s age is to be used to determine how many individuals are selected for the service to receive special coins, commonly referred to as "Maundy Money."
The Queen turns 84 on April 21, 2010, so she gave a white and red purse of coins to 168 people, 84 women and 84 men.
The red purses included £5 coins and 50p pieces. The white purses contained one, two, three and four penny pieces, or Maundy coins, which were specially minted in sterling silver (92.5%) and add up to the Queen’s age.
The coins are uniquely designed and specially minted each year for the ceremony. The effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on coins has seen four changes through the Queens’ reign. The Maundy coins bear Her Majesty’s portrait which was sculpted by Mary Gillick and first struck on coins issued in the year of the Queen’s 1953 coronation.
The word Maundy is derived from Christ’s commandment or "mandatum" given at the Last Supper to love one another. The Royal Maundy Service dates back to at least the 13th century.