Pictures of this year’s Royal Maundy Service.
Royal Maundy is a religious service in the Church of England held on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. At the service, the British Monarch or a royal official ceremonially distributes small silver coins known as “Maundy money” (legally, “the Queen’s Maundy money”) as symbolic alms to elderly recipients. The coins are legal tender but do not circulate because of their silver content and numismatic value. A small sum of ordinary money is also given in lieu of gifts of clothing and food that the sovereign once bestowed on Maundy recipients.
The name “Maundy” and the ceremony itself derive from an instruction, or mandatum, of Jesus Christ at the Last Supper that his followers should love one another. In the Middle Ages, English monarchs washed the feet of beggars in imitation of Jesus, and presented gifts and money to the poor. Over time, additional money was substituted for the clothing and other items that had once been distributed.