A tradition dating back to the 15th century was honoured at St George's Chapel today as the Queen handed out the traditional Maundy money to 93 men and 93 women who have served their communities across the country.

The numbers of people receiving the coins was significant as the Queen is due to celebrate her 93rd birthday on Easter Sunday.

Each recipient received a white purse containing silver pennies, twopences, threepences and fourpences, plus a red purse with a nominal amount.

The coins are legal tender but do not circulate because of their silver content and collectible value - and because they are seen as treasured honours passed down to future generations by recipients.

Represented among those receiving the coins from all over the country were two proud 'locals' - Victor Mitchell, 88, honoured for his services as a bell ringer at the Curfew Tower at Windsor Castle over 50 years - 15 of them as a steward, plus Pamela Leslie Melville, 71, for her 30 years contribution as a steward at St George's Chapel.

The Queen proved as tireless as ever as she walked the entire length of the chapel dressed in a buttercup yellow coat and hat personally handing over the purses to each recipient.

The handing over of the money formed the centrepiece of a full church service that began with two spectacular procession into the chapel. 

The College of St George and Chapel Royal Procession led by the Military Knights of Windsor was matched by the Royal Almonry procession featuring the Yeomen of the Guard carrying the dishes bearing the Maundy money.

The dishes date from the reign of Charles II in the 17th century.

The Queen was greeted at the North Door of the chapel by the Dean of Windsor Right Reverend David Conner, where she was presented with a traditional nosegay by children from Colnbrook Primary School and Holy Family Catholic School in Langley.

But the solemnity of the situation was not allowed to be too nerve racking for the 186 men and women waiting to be handed their special gift from the Queen.

The Lord High Almoner Doctor John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, raised many a smile in the moments leading up to the start of the service when he spoke to the recipients - asking them to thank the Queen briefly and not to follow the example of one recipient years ago who handed Her Majesty a pot of marmalade in return.

On a serious note he told them the Queen regarded the Maundy money service as an important event in the yearly calendar. He told them: "In a few moments this chapel will be transformed by a spectacle of pageant and tradition and you will be a part of it."