LONDON, April 22 (UPI) -- Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 85th birthday Thursday by distributing Maundy Money at Westminster Abbey in London.
Men and women, 85 of each to match her age, received token commemorative coins, the Daily Mail reported. Their average age was 79 and they included one man who first met the queen when he was a student at Eton College and was invited to her 18th birthday party.
The ceremony dates back to the Middle Ages, when the king would also wash the feet of some of his subjects on the day celebrating Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples. It fell into disuse, but was revived in the 20th century.
Tim Hely-Hutchinson, the Old Etonian, is the same age as the queen. He was selected to be a recipient of Maundy Money because of his years as a volunteer guide at the Abbey.
Doris Chamberlain, 89, met the queen for the first time.
"I wanted to say 'happy birthday' to her but we were asked not to because if all 170 people each said 'happy birthday' it might have slowed things down," she said.
The queen's official birthday is in June and coincides with the Trooping of the Color.