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Queen Elizabeth Celebrates 85th Birthday, Hands Out Bags of Money

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 21, 2011

By: WILLIAM LEE ADAMS

Move over Kate Middleton. Today is all about Her Majesty the Queen.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth holds on to her hat in high winds, during her visit to her grandson, Prince William, at RAF Valley, in north Wales April 1, 2011.

Thursday afternoon, Elizabeth, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, will conduct the Church of England’s Maundy Services in Westminster Abbey. To mark Maundy Thursday—the day before Good Friday—she’ll distribute small bags of money to 85 male and 85 female retirees—one for each of her 85 years. The symbolic alms come in either a red or white purse. The former includes a £5 coin commemorating the Prince Philip’s 90th birthday in June, and a 50-pence coin marking the 2012 London Olympic Games. The latter is stuffed with Maundy Money of silver coins, minted especially for the occasion, in one, two, three and four penny denominations. They various coins add up to the Queen’s age.

(More on TIME.com: See pictures of Queen Elizabeth’s most stunning tiaras)

Of course, as the head of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, the Queen doesn’t just have one birthday—she has two. Thursday is her actual birthday—she was born at 1926 at 17 Bruton Street, her grandfather’s former home which is now an upscale Chinese restaurant. But the U.K. officially celebrates her birthday on the third Saturday of June, owing to a tradition started by King Edward VIII. His birthday was in November—not the best time for a street party—so he schedule a second, more festive affair for the summer. Read the rest of this entry »

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