What is the history behind the traditional Royal Maundy Thursday service?

The Queen will mark Maundy Thursday by distributing alms as part of a tradition dating back to the 13th century.

The Queen will be in Leicester today.

She will be accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh for the service at Leicester Cathedral where the Maundy Money will be distributed to 91 men and 91 women - representing each of her 91 years.

The 182 recipients of the Maundy money are senior citizens who will be given the gifts in recognition of the service they have given to the church and their local area.

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The Queen will hand two purses - one white and one red - to each person during the service.

The red purse contains a £5 coin, commemorating the Centenary of the House of Windsor and a 50p coin commemorating Sir Isaac Newton, while the white purse will contain uniquely minted Maundy coins, equating in pence to her age.

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

The Queen last visited the East Midlands city in March 2012 as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour, while the cathedral is the final burial place of King Richard III, whose remains were discovered in the city in September 2012.

Here is a look at what the service is all about.

What are the origins of the service?

The Maundy Service dates back to the 13th century and used to involve the sovereign giving money to the poor and washing their feet.

When did this change into the service we know today?

The tradition of feet washing ended with James II in the 18th century and now the Queen commemorates the day by offering alms to senior citizens in recognition of service to the church and community.

What will happen at today's service?

The Queen will distribute the Maundy money to 91 men and 91 women - one for each of her 91 years - with recipients getting two purses, one red and one white.

What do the purses contain?

The red purse contains a £5 coin, commemorating the Centenary of the House of Windsor and a 50p coin commemorating Sir Isaac Newton, while the white purse contains Maundy Money minted especially for the occasion in the form of one, two, three and four penny pieces making up 91p to reflect the age of Elizabeth II.

Why does the red purse contain £5.50?

For historic reasons, the sum of £5.50 is made up of £3 for clothing, £1.50 in lieu of provisions and £1 for the redemption of the monarch's gown.