Queen presents Maundy money on service's 800th anniversary

Britain is awash with many unique and ancient ceremonies which, put together, make the nation great.

And one of them is the issuing of Maundy Money.

Every Maundy Thursday - the last Thursday before Easter - the British monarch hands out specially minted coins, known as Maundy Money, to the same number of both male and female pensioners as she is years old.

This year's ceremony took place at Derby Cathedral, where Elizabeth II, aged 84, handed out 84 pence each to 84 men and 84 women. All the recipients have done a generous amount of charity or religious work.

This year's ceremony was also extra significant as this year is the ceremony's 800th anniversary. The first recorded ceremony was held by King John in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, in 1210.

For centuries, it was also traditional for the monarch to wash the feet of the poor on Maundy Thursday. But the joint monarchs of William III and Mary II refused to perform the act (they also refused to carry out the tradition of a monarch touching scrofula victims to cure them). It was stopped in 1736 not long after their reign ended.

Queen presents Maundy money on service's 800th anniversary

Times Online
1st April 2010

The Queen dropped her order of service

...But a girl stooped to pick it up

...and handed it back to her

The Queen presented pensioners with Maundy money today in what is believed to be the 800th anniversary of the Easter ceremony.

She was wearing a matching duck-egg blue jacket and hat with a diamond brooch as she attended the service at Derby Cathedral with the Duke of Edinburgh. She was helped by a young girl who picked up her service paper when she dropped it outside the cathedral.

More than 2,000 well-wishers waving Union flags waited in the streets around the cathedral, which was full to its capacity for the hour-long service, during which the Duke of Edinburgh read a passage from the book of St John.

The specially minted Maundy Coins

The Queen smiled and exchanged a few words as she presented the pensioners, recommended for their work in local churches, with traditional red purses containing specially minted coins.

Eighty-four men and 84 women - as many of each as the Sovereign is in years - received 84 pence in the specially minted money.

The traditional act of an English monarch washing the feet of the poor lasted for centuries until the reign of the double monarchy of William III (reigned 1689-1702) and Mary II (reigned 1689-1694). The two monarchs (who ruled jointly following an argument over who should be monarch. William's wife Mary was heir to the Throne after her father James II, but James II was ousted in 1689 by Mary's Dutch husband - and cousin - William, during the Glorious Revolution. William thought that as he had rescued the English from a tyrranical Catholic monarch, that HE, and not his wife, should reign. Therefore a compromise was reached in which they would both be monarchs) thought that such acts were nonsense and refused to perform them. The tradition of a monarch washing the feet of the poor was abandoned in 1736. William and Mary also refused to carry out the act of "Touching for the King's Evil", an event which meant the monarch touching a scrofula victim to, as it was believed, cure them. William and Mary's successor, Queen Anne, brought back the ceremony of Touching the King's Evil (including touching the infant Samuel Johnson in 1712) but her successor, King George I, banned the ceremony, deeming it "too Catholic."

The tradition of royalty washing the feet of the poor ended in the 18th century, but the Queen has given out "Maundy money" most years of her reign.

The tradition of the monarch handing out money to subjects dates to the 13th century with the first recorded ceremony held by King John in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, in 1210. "Maundy" comes from the word "mandatum", Christ's commandment to love one another.

Among those receiving Maundy money today was Bill Attenborough, 91, from Derby, an RAF photographer entrusted to take pictures when the Queen made her coronation state visit to Northern Ireland in 1953.

He said: "Itís quite an honour and it was a surprise as well. I have never met the Queen but I have photographed her so today brings back a lot of memories."

Sam Beswick, 80, from Littleover, Derbyshire, was put forward because of his work looking after Derby Cathedral.

He said: "I feel very honoured to be receiving the money. You donít usually express it but itís a feeling of self-satisfaction.

Penny Daley-Yates was nominated to receive the gift by her local vicar for work at her church.

She said: ďItís almost like I cannot believe it is happening. I donít know why it happened to be me because Iím just an ordinary person but it was wonderful to see all the pageantry and to hear the choir singing.Ē

John Barke, 73, from Derby, also received Maundy money. He said: ďThe Queen didnít say anything. She just gave me the Maundy money but she has a lovely smile and beautiful eyes. I just said íThank you, your Majestyí. It was absolutely marvellous.Ē

Maundy Money

Today's recipients of Royal Maundy, as many elderly men and women as there are years in the sovereign's age, are chosen because of the Christian service they have given to the Church and community. At the ceremony which takes place annually on Maundy Thursday, the sovereign hands to each recipient two small leather string purses. One, a red purse, contains - in ordinary coinage - money in lieu of food and clothing; the other, a white purse, contains silver Maundy coins consisting of the same number of pence as the years of the sovereign's age.

The ceremony started exactly 800 years ago, in the reign of King John, but it was King Henry IV (reigned 1399-1413) who began the practice of relating the number of recipients of gifts to the sovereign's age, and as it became the custom of the sovereign to perform the ceremony, the event became known as the Royal Maundy.

Maundy money has remained in much the same form since 1670, and the coins used for the Maundy ceremony have traditionally been struck in sterling silver save for the brief interruptions of Henry's Vlll's debasement of the coinage and the general change to 50% silver coins in 1920.

The sterling silver standard (92.5%) was resumed following the Coinage Act of 1946 and in 1971, when decimalisation took place, the face values of the coins were increased from old to new pence.

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.

Last edited by Blackleaf; Apr 1st, 2010 at 01:36 PM..
It's basically a token of appreaciation from the Queen to the people in her way of saying, "Thank you for letting me be your queen."

The queen does alot for the people and this is her special way of saying thanks for playing with me.

For example: I once went to jail on an uttering threats charge and I called legislative and asked for a pardon when she was in Canada and lo and behold she heard my plee and sent me a written message to my jail cell, which they let me out.

So, she is definately a people person willing to play Queen with you if you are willing to recognize her as such.