Why do people receive coins on Maundy Thursday?

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh are due to visit Leicester Cathedral where they will attend the Royal Maundy Service.

Her Majesty will observe the ancient tradition of handing out Maundy money to a group of 91 men and 91 women from the local community.

So what is the history of Maundy Thursday and why do people receive these special coins?

The posy of flowers is known as a 'nosegay'. Credit: PA Images

Maundy Thursday always happens on the Thursday before Easter Sunday, the day on which Christians commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus.

The Queen marks it by giving out special silver coins known as 'Maundy money' to local pensioners recommended by clergy and ministers.

The people who are chosen to receive the money are being recognised for their services to the church or to the local community.

Her Majesty visits a different Cathedral or Abbey nearly every year, after deciding the money should not just be distributed to people in London.

The purses are carried into the church on silver dishes. Credit: PA Images

During the service, The Queen distributes gifts according to the number of years she has lived - this year coins will be given to 91 men and 91 women.

The ceremonial coins are given out in two small leather purses, one red and one white.

This year, the red purse contains a £5 coin, commemorating the Centenary of the House of Windsor and a 50p coin commemorating Sir Isaac Newton.

The white purse contains uniquely minted money in one, two, three and four silver penny pieces, which equals 91 pence.

The money is legal tender but recipients normally prefer to keep them as a memory.

The Queen also takes the opportunity to talk to those receiving the money. Credit: PA Images

Read more: Route for Queen's visit announced