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Queen hands out Royal Maundy alms

The Queen has handed out commemorative Maundy coins for the 60th time as she undertook the pre-Easter tradition in Sheffield Cathedral.

Thousands of people were waiting outside the city centre cathedral when the Queen arrived by car with the Duke of Edinburgh for the ancient ceremony.

Wearing a turquoise coat and hat, she handed out two purses to each of the 89 men and 89 women who made up this year's recipients.

The Royal Maundy was traditionally about giving alms to poor pensioners.

Today's recipients are recommended by the Church for their service to the community.

The number chosen reflects the monarch's age.

After the hour-long service, the Queen posed for pictures with the Yeoman of the Guard, who lined the cathedral aisles for the ceremony.

She wore a Stewart Parvin cashmere coat with a black velvet collar over a floral silk dress. Her hat was by Rachel Trevor-Jones and a brooch by Waterford Crystal.

The Royal party then left for a reception at Sheffield town hall as the recipients emerged into the sunshine, all pleased with their royal acknowledgement.

D-Day veteran Denis Gratton, 91, from Sheffield, said: "It was just quick. I'm not very good at hearing. She did say something but I'm not sure what it were."

Patricia Durkin, 72, said: "It was brilliant, absolutely wonderful. When I got here the atmosphere was tremendous."

Each of the recipients received two leather purses. The red one contained a £5 coin commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill and a 50p coin marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

The white purse was filled with the Maundy coins.

Each year, the Royal Mint produces a limited number of special coins for the service.

The one, two, three and four pence coins are all legal tender, but the specially made silver coins are not intended for everyday use.

Unlike those in general circulation, the Royal Maundy coins continue to bear the portrait of the Queen produced by Mary Gillick for the first coins of her reign.

Gillick, a sculptor, designed the portrait which appeared on the coins of the UK and some Commonwealth countries from 1953 until preparations for decimalisation began in 1968.

The portrait of the Queen wearing a wreath on her head was considered to reflect the nation's optimism as it greeted a new monarch in the post-war years.

The Royal Maundy is an ancient ceremony which has its origin in the commandment Christ gave after washing the feet of his disciples the day before Good Friday.

The Mint said it seems to have been the custom as early as the 13th century for members of the royal family to take part in Maundy ceremonies.


From Belfast Telegraph