Sheffield is preparing for a prestigious royal visit – with the Queen set to visit the city on Maundy Thursday.
The Queen, accompanied by her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh, will attend a service at Sheffield Cathedral, where the Queen will hand out the traditional Maundy money.
A spokesman for the Royal household said: “The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will be present at the Maundy Service in Sheffield Cathedral.
“Her Majesty will distribute the Royal Maundy during the Service.
“Every year at Easter, Her Majesty presents special ‘Maundy money’ to local pensioners in a UK cathedral or abbey.
“The presentation is in recognition of the service of elderly people to their community and their church.
“Since the fifteenth century, the number of Maundy coins handed out, and the number of people receiving the coins, has been related to the Sovereign’s age: for example, when The Queen was 60 years old, 60 women and 60 men would have received 60p-worth of Maundy coins.”
The Queen, who turns 89 this year, is set to hand money to 89 men and 89 women at the service on Thursday, April 2 – the selection is co-ordinated by the Diocese of Sheffield.
The Dean of Sheffield, the Very Reverend Peter Bradley, is delighted to be welcoming The Queen.
He said: “This is a historic moment for us in the life of South Yorkshire and the city of Sheffield.
“We are deeply honoured to be chosen to host the Royal Maundy Service on behalf of our nation. This service is a special opportunity to recognise individuals who have worked to make a positive contribution to the community.
“I have been moved to learn of the many unsung heroes in South Yorkshire who give their time and effort for the good of others’’.
The Bishop of Sheffield, the Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft said: “It will be a real delight and honour to welcome Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to the Cathedral, to the city and to South Yorkshire.
“The Royal Maundy service is a way of honouring some of the many older people who have given significant service to their communities over many years, often in hidden ways.”
It is the first time the tradition has taken place in Sheffield, Last year, it took place in Blackburn, Lancashire.
The spokesman said: “Maundy coins have remained in much the same form since 1670. They have traditionally been struck in sterling silver, except for the brief interruptions of Henry’s Vlll’s debasement of the coinage and the general change to 50% silver coins in 1920. The sterling silver standard was resumed following the Coinage Act of 1946.
“In 1971, when decimalisation took place, the face values of the coins were increased from old to new pence.
“The Royal Maundy Service used to take place in London, but early in her reign The Queen decided the service should take place at a different venue every year.
“Her Majesty has distributed Maundy on all but four occasions since coming to the throne 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 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. The last monarch to do so was James II.”