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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 April, 2004, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Queen in Liverpool for ceremony
The Queen distributes Maundy money
Recipients must be aged over 70 to receive the Queen's coins
The Queen is in Liverpool for the ancient Maundy Thursday ceremony.

During the service at the city's Anglican Cathedral the Queen will hand out money to 78 men and 78 women.

Maundy Thursday marks the washing of the disciples' feet by Jesus. British monarchs used to wash subjects' feet, but James II ended the practice.

It is the first time the ceremony has been performed at the cathedral. The locals were selected for their contributions to their communities.

Organisers have selected 78 men and women as a way of marking the Queen's 78th birthday celebrations which take place on 21 April.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived at Liverpool's Lime Street station where she was greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of Liverpool Alan Waterworth and the Chief Constable of Merseyside Norman Bettison.

More than 100 people lined the platform to see her.

Civic reception

Eighteen police horses and their riders, dressed in full ceremonial attire, escorted the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to the cathedral from the station.

At the cathedral, the Queen stopped to chat to many of the pensioners, who must be aged at least 70 to receive the Maundy gift.

Yeomen balanced silver trays containing the purses on their heads as they carried them through the cathedral.

The distribution of Maundy Money is an ancient tradition, full of pomp and ceremony

After the service they will attend a civic reception at Liverpool Hope University.

Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Ron Gould, said: "It is a wonderful honour that the Queen has chosen to visit Liverpool this year for the Maundy Thursday celebrations.

"I am delighted that some of the people who make such a great contribution to our city are receiving this prestigious award from Her Majesty."

The Queen has only missed four Maundy Thursday ceremonies since coming to the throne in 1952.

Traditionally, the monarch would hand out food and wash the feet of the city's poor.

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