Queen in good spirits on a visit to Westminster Abbey

Friday April 22, 2011

This year's Maundy Thursday service, undoubtedly, seemed like a dress rehearsal for another happy occasion.

Held in Westminster Abbey, it gave the Queen the chance to reflect on next week's joyous ceremony when her grandson Prince William will marry his university sweetheart Kate Middleton.

In an 800-year custom, the monarch honoured 85 men and 85 women - one for each year of her age - by handing them purses of Maundy money.

In line with tradition, the sum of money, also equivalent to the Queen's age, was given to pensioners chosen for their community service.

So one purse contained 85p in uniquely minted Maundy coins. 

The other held a £5 coin celebrating the Duke of Edinbrugh's 90th birthday in June, a 50p coin marking the London Olympics in 2012

By coincidence April 21 was the day the royal matriarch actually turned 85.

It's the first time the traditional Easter celebration has fallen on her birthday.

Queen Elizabeth II - happier than ever at 85

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