Maundy Thursday is familiar to many as the Thursday before Easter, but for Britain’s 1100-year old Royal Mint, the day has an added significance, as it continues a 700 year old tradition of striking Maundy Money coins for the monarch to present in an annual pre-Easter ceremony known as the Royal Maundy.
The tradition was started by Edward I (1274 to 1307), when on Maundy Thursday, he would carry out an act of service giving alms - gifts of money and clothing - to the poor. Up to the end of James II reign in 1688, that act of service also included the washing of the recipients’ feet.
The ceremony was held for centuries in Whitehall and in Westminster Abbey, London, but since the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, the Maundy Service has travelled to towns and cities across Britain. This year, on 17 April, it is to be hosted in Blackburn Cathedral for the first time. Thiswill be the 59th year that the Queen has been present at the service since her accession to the throne in 1952, having attended on all but four occasions.
The Queen will hand out two purses – one red and one white - to each of the chosen recipients. The number of recipients relates to the sovereign's age, so for 88 men and 88 women from the Blackburn area, Maundy Thursday will be more memorable than usual this year. All over the age of 70, they are selected by clergy and ministers of all denominations in recognition of their service to church and community.
The white purse will contain Maundy coins to the value of 88 pence – in line with the Queen’s age - while the red purse will contain a £5 coin and a 50p coin, all struck by The Royal Mint. The one, two, three and four pence coins which make up Maundy Money are all legal tender.
The effigy of The Queen on ordinary circulating coinage has undergone four changes during her reign, but Maundy coins still bear the original portrait used on coins issued in the year of her Coronation in 1953. Since the start of the Queen’s reign, The Royal Mint has struck more than 400,000 of the limited edition Maundy coins.
About The Royal Mint
The Royal Mint is one of the world’s oldest and most venerable organisations, with an unbroken history of minting British coinage dating back over 1000 years. Though more than ten centuries have passed since then, The Royal Mint’s reputation for both quality and integrity has always endured.
While The Royal Mint’s finest traditions are always respected, it continually innovates in order to stay at the forefront of world minting, embracing the latest production techniques and technology in order to offer excellence to our clients across the globe. By underpinning our proud heritage with a highly progressive outlook, coins from The Royal Mint remain a byword for trust and reliability the world over.
There were estimated to be 28.9 billion UK coins in circulation at 31 March 2013, with a total face value of £3.9 billion, all manufactured by The Royal Mint. In total, 1.4 billion UK coins were issued during 2012-13.
As well as over 1,000 years of producing British coinage, The Royal Mint has long been trusted with the currencies of other countries. It currently serves more than 100 issuing authorities around the world and meets approximately 15% of global demand, making us the world’s leading export mint.