The Royal Maundy Service in 1952
Maundy Thursday commemorates the day of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. The word 'Maundy' comes from the command or 'mandatum' by Christ at the Last Supper, to love one another.
The tradition of the British Sovereign giving money to the poor dates from the thirteenth century. The Sovereign also used to give food and clothing, and even washed the recipients' feet but the last monarch to do so was James II.
The Royal Maundy Service at Westminster Abbey in 1952 was the Queen’s first public engagement as Sovereign. Every year at Easter Queen Elizabeth II presents special 'Maundy money' to local pensioners in a UK cathedral or abbey in recognition of their service to their community and their church.
The Queen, holding a nosegay (flowers traditionally used in medieval times to ward off bad odours) outside Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford following the traditional Royal Maundy Service, 28 March 2013.