The word ‘maundy’ derives from the latin ‘mandatum’ which was applied to Christ’s washing of his disciples feet on the day before Good Friday; ‘that ye love one another’ (John XIII 34)
British Royalty have taken part in the Maundy ceremony since the 13th century; distributing money, gifts and washing the feet of the poor
It was King John who started the Royal Maundy tradition in 1210 when he donated garments, forks, food, and other gifts to the poor of Knaresborough, Yorkshire.
Henry IV, around 1400, related the number of Maundy recipients to the age of the Sovereign. And it was Charles II in 1670 who instituted the tradition of a special Maundy money distribution.
Today the Queen handed out commemorative Maundy coins to 90 men and 90 women in a traditional royal service at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Each recipient received two purses, one red and one white. This year the red purse contained a £5 coin, commemorating the Queen’s 90th birthday, and a 50p coin commemorating the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.
The Maundy coins are a silver 4 pence, 3 pence, 2 pence and a penny. They bear the Queen’s original 1953 effigy by Mary Gillick.
Images Thank you BBC: Maundy Thursday: Queen hands out 90th birthday coin http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35890750