21 Mar 2016

The Royal Mint has been busy striking a special set of coins for Her Majesty The Queen to present on Thursday 24th March in a 700 year-old pre-Easter ceremony known as Royal Maundy.

This year the ceremony takes on particular significance as it is to be held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle in the year The Queen turns 90 - the first time it has taken place in Windsor since 1959.

This year with The Queen celebrating her 90th birthday, 90 men and 90 women from across the country, chosen because of the service they have given to their parish and community, will each receive two leather pouches (one white and one red) during the Royal Maundy service. The white purse will contain Maundy coins to the value of The Queen’s age, while the red purse will contain a £5 coin and a 50p coin.

Each year The Royal Mint produces a limited number of Maundy coins for distribution by the monarch. The silver one, two, three and four pence coins are all legal tender, but are not intended for everyday use.

Dr Kevin Clancy, Director of the Royal Mint Museum said, ‘Maundy Money is, in a sense, the Queen’s personal coinage.  It is only ever used on Maundy Thursday when it is given by the Queen to the selected group of men and women.  This personal link is also apparent in the portrait used on Maundy Money since each of the four special silver coins still use the portrait of the Queen by the sculptor Mary Gillick, -  first seen on coins issued in the year of her Coronation in 1953.’

It has been the custom as early as the thirteenth century for members of the royal family to take part in Maundy ceremonies, to distribute money and gifts. Originally everyday coinage was used for the occasion, but the custom of using Maundy Money specially-struck by The Royal Mint started in 1662 in the reign of Charles II.

Henry IV began the practice of relating the number of recipients of gifts to the monarch's age, and as it became the custom for the monarch to perform the ceremony, the event became known as the Royal Maundy.

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