Queen Elizabeth II celebrated Holy Thursday by handing out Maundy money in a ceremony held at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, continuing a centuries-old Christian tradition and marking the first time a Royal Maundy Service was held there since 1959. The previous time at Windsor was approximately 600 years ago in the reign of King Henry VI.
Red and white leather purses were handed out to 90 men and 90 women. Inside the red purse was a 2016 UK £5 coin commemorating the Queen’s 90th birthday and a 2016 UK 50p coin memorializing the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. The white purse included the Maundy coins (silver pennies, twopences, threepences and fourpences) with their face values adding up to 90 pence. All the coins were struck by Britain’s 1100-year old Royal Mint.
Royal Maundy can be traced back in England to the thirteenth century. Edward I (1274 to 1307) started the traditional Maundy Thursday act of giving alms to the poor.
"The Service derives its name from the Latin ‘mandatum’ meaning a commandment and its opening words are Jesus said: ‘I give you a new commandment: Love one another: As I have loved you, so you are to love one another’," St George’s Chapel describes.
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 changed annually to equal the monarch’s age. With Queen Elizabeth II on April 21 celebrating her 90th birthday, an equal number of men and women were chosen to receive the Maundy money. They were selected from across the country, not the local diocese as is usual, in recognition of their service to the community and the Church.
A short video, courtesy of The Telegraph, offers raw footage of Queen Elizabeth II during the traditional ceremony.
To ready more about the unique Maundy money, visit the Royal Mint webpage right here.