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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 11:01 GMT
Queen hands out Maundy money
The Queen on a tour of the Commonwealth
The royal Maundy tradition dates back to the 1200s
Seventy-six men and 76 women will be handed specially minted Maundy Money by the Queen on Thursday.

The centuries-old Easter Thursday tradition marks the monarch's 76th birthday on 21 April.

The service at Canterbury Cathedral will be one of Dr George Carey's final major services before he retires as Archbishop of Canterbury in October.

The Queen has attended the ceremony every year since 1971, and on all but four occasions since she came to the throne in 1952.

The Sovereign also used to give food and clothing... and even washed the recipients' feet

The Royal Family's website

Traditionally an equal number of male and female pensioners, with a record of Christian service to the local community, are given the Maundy Money.

They will receive a set of silver coins, consisting of one, two, three and four-penny pieces with a total value equal to the Queen's age.

The tradition of the Sovereign giving money to the poor dates from the 13th Century.

The Royal family's official website states: "The Sovereign also used to give food and clothing (later changed to a gift of money), and even washed the recipients' feet.

"This varied from Sovereign to Sovereign, the last Monarch to do so was James II."

The Royal Maundy Service used to take place in London before the Queen decided the service should take place at a different cathedral every year.

See also:

21 Mar 02 | England
Queen heads to the suburbs
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