The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh today attended the traditional royal maundy service at Leicester Cathedral where Her Majesty handed out maundy money to local pensioners – 91 men and 91 women – one for every year of Her Majesty’s age.
The Queen, who turns 91-years-old in a couple of weeks time, arrived in the city by train and was greeted by thousands of well-wishers on the streets of Leicester as she made the short journey to the cathedral.
The Dean of Leicester said: “I am delighted that the special service of Maundy will be recorded for posterity in this way for all the people of our city and county to enjoy, and we welcome everyone to visit the cathedral during the following month to share the experience.”
After the traditional church service, Her Majesty walked to St Martin’s House, which is located next to the cathedral, and ate lunch with guests and dignitaries.
The maundy service is a traditional affair and the money given out by The Queen is symbolic rather than carrying any large monetary value. The tradition of the Sovereign giving money to the poor dates from the thirteenth century – formerly, the Sovereign used to give food and clothing and even washed the recipients’ feet. The official royal website says the last monarch to do this was James II.
Nowadays, the occasion is marked with a church service during which The Queen hands out the maundy money to carefully selected local pensioners.
It was Henry IV who began relating the number of recipients and value of coins to the Sovereign’s age and as such, 91 men and women received 91 pence worth of maundy money each from The Queen.
The Queen last visited Leicester Cathedral in 2012 for her Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The city of Leicester was her first stop during her tour of the United Kingdom.
On Monday an exhibition will open at the cathedral which showcases pictures taken from today’s service. It will be entitled Servant.