Queen to hand out Maundy money

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Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Mint of the Maundy Money coins that Queen Elizabeth II will present in the annual pre-Easter ceremony known as the Royal Maundy, which will be held in Blackburn Cathedral for the first time today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday April 17, 2014. See PA story ROYAL Maundy. Photo credit should read: Royal Mint/PA WireNOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

The Queen will take part in the ancient Royal Maundy Thursday service today.

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, she will distribute the traditional coins during the annual event, held this year at Blackburn Cathedral.

Maundy Thursday is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter to commemorate the last supper of Jesus with the Apostles and echoes the story of Christ washing the feet of his disciples shortly before his death.

The Maundy Service, which dates back to the 13th century, originally involved the sovereign giving money to the poor and washing their feet, a tradition which ended with James II in the 18th century.

The Queen commemorates Maundy by offering "alms" to senior citizens - retired pensioners recommended by clergy and ministers of all denominations, in recognition of service to the Church and to the local community.

During today's service the Queen will distribute the Maundy money to 88 men and 88 women - one for each of her 88 years. Each recipient receives two purses, one red and one white.

This year the Red Purse contains a £5 coin, commemorating the 300th anniversary of Queen Anne's reign and a 50p coin commemorating the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer.

Historically, the Red Purse contained an allowance of £3 for clothing, £1.50 in lieu of provisions and £1 for the redemption of the Sovereign's gown.

The White Purse contains uniquely minted Maundy money. This takes the form of one, two, three and four silver penny pieces, the sum of which equals the number of years of the monarch's age. This year 88 pennies worth of pieces will be distributed.

The image 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.

Director of music at Blackburn Cathedral Samuel Hudson said: "For the majority of us who will be performing at the service this is our first royal occasion, and certainly the first involving HM the Queen.

"For that reason alone, there is a real buzz about the place and everyone is really looking forward to the event."

Following the service, in keeping with Royal Maundy tradition, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are due to spend time with religious and civic dignitaries.

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