Every Maundy Thursday, the day on which Christians commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus, The Queen distributes special Maundy money to local pensioners. She visits a different Cathedral or Abbey nearly every year, demonstrating her interest and involvement with the people of the UK on a local level. This is a modern-day version of an ancient ceremony known in England since around AD 600.
When and where is the service?
The Maundy Service happens each year on the Thursday before Easter Sunday. Early in her reign, The Queen decided Maundy money should not just be distributed to the people of London, and so she now travels to various cathedrals or abbeys to give gifts to local people.
What is Maundy money?
During the service, The Queen distributes gifts according to the number of years she has lived: for example, when she turned 80 she distributed 80 pence worth of Maundy money to 80 men and 80 women in recognition for their contribution to community and to the church.
These special coins have kept much the same form since 1670, and they still bear the portrait of Her Majesty designed for her coronation in 1953, even though the image on ordinary circulating coinage has since been changed four times.
Each recipient of Maundy money is given two small leather purses by The Queen, one red and one white. The first contains a small amount of ordinary coinage which symbolises the Sovereign's gift for food and clothing. The second purse contains Maundy coins up to the value of the Sovereign's age. The coins are legal tender but recipients normally prefer to retain them as a keepsake.