The traditional service has its roots when the Monarch would distribute coins (maundy money) to members of the peasantry and later, poor, elderly people, in an act related to how Jesus was said to have washed the feet of one of his disciples.
Nowadays, Maundy Money is distributed to elderly members of the local area in which The Queen is performing the year’s maundy service. This year, pensioners from the Oxford area will be selected to receive maundy money from Her Majesty.
The maundy coins come in four denominations, 1 pence, 2 pence, 3 pence and 4 pence. The maundy coins are not in circulation and are merely symbolic.
One man and one woman is chosen for every year of the Queen’s age, this year there will be 87 men and 87 women (the calculation includes the current year) present to receive maundy money, a total of 174 people present to receive maundy money. The recipients receive an amount of maundy money that is equal to the Queen’s age, i.e.g 87 pence each.
The effigy of The Queen on ordinary circulating coinage has undergone three changes, but Maundy coins still bear the same portrait of Her Majesty prepared by Mary Gillick for the first coins issued in the year of her coronation in 1953.
The Yeoman of the Guard are present at the ceremony and carry dishes containing the money above their heads, traditionally so those in the crowds around couldn’t grab the contents.
The Queen then participates in a religious service before handing the maundy money out to the chosen recipients.
There are two ‘purses’ containing money given to each recipient. One containing the maundy money and one containing money in ‘lieu of clothing’, nowadays it’s usually just a commemorative £5 coin. In 2012, it was a £5 coin marking The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Technically, these £5 coins are legal tender, but are more likely to be kept for commemorative purposes. This year, the £5 coin to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s coronation will probably be distributed.
Last year, Princess Beatrice accompanied The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to York Minster. It is unclear, as yet, who’ll accompany Her Majesty and His Royal Highness this year.
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