Continuing a Christian tradition that dates back centuries, Queen Elizabeth II marked Holy Thursday today, April 17, 2014, by handing out Maundy money during a ceremony held at Blackburn Cathedral in Lancashire, England.
This year 88 men and 88 women received the coins in two separate purses as part of the Royal Maundy Service. The coins were, of course, struck by Britain’s 1100-year old Royal Mint.
These Maundy money coins, as they have come to be known, have centuries of history. Edward I (1274 to 1307), started the traditional Maundy Thursday act of alms giving to the poor.
Since then, some of the specifics of the tradition have changed, but it still involves individuals receiving gifts from the monarch. In more recent times, the number of recipients has been adjusted annually to equal the monarch’s age. With the Queen having celebrated her 88th birthday, an equal number of lucky men and women were selected to receive the Maundy money.
The recipients, all over the age of 70, were selected by clergy and ministers in recognition of their service to church and community.
A red and a white purse were handed to the recipients. The white purse included the Maundy money with a total legal tender face value of 88 pence. Inside the red purse was a 2014 £5 300th Anniversary Queen Anne commemorative coin and a Glasgow 2014 50p Commonwealth Games commemorative coin.
"The effigy of The Queen on ordinary circulating coinage has undergone four changes during her reign, but Maundy coins still bear the original portrait used on coins issued in the year of her Coronation in 1953," the Royal Mint said in a news release. "Since the start of the Queen’s reign, The Royal Mint has struck more than 400,000 of the limited edition Maundy coins."
Since her ascension to the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II has only missed Maundy Thursday celebrations on four occasions. Thus, this year’s ceremony marks the 59th year for her service. The Royal Mint has struck more than 400,000 of the limited-edition Maundy coins since the start of her reign.
A short video, courtesy of The Royal Family Channel, offers raw footage of Queen Elizabeth II during the traditional Royal Maundy Service. This year it was held at Blackburn Cathedral in Lancashire, England.
To ready more about the unique money, visit the Royal Mint webpage that is found here.