Today is Maundy Thursday and, 10 years ago, Blackburn welcomed Queen Elizabeth for a historic visit to the town. 

Cheers and bells rang out across the town centre as well-wishers strained to get a glimpse of the monarch who came to hand out Maundy money at Blackburn Cathedral.

GALLERY: Click here for 173 photos of the Queen's visit in 2014. Can you spot yourself or anyone you know in the crowds? 

This was during the traditional Royal Maundy Thursday service, on April 17, 2014, in a tradition that dates back more than 800 years.

The Maundy Money ceremony began in 1662, when Charles II gave out coins.

Back in 2014 and thousands lined the streets, waving flags to welcome the Head of State and the Duke of Edinburgh, who arrived at Blackburn Railway Station by royal train before making their way to the town’s Cathedral for the service.

Royalists young and old had spent the morning waiting for the couple, several wearing Union Jack fancy dress, so they could cheer as the royal procession went past.

Some had even been there since the early hours of the morning to get the best vantage point possible to catch a glimpse of the Queen.

It was the first time in Blackburn’s history the important royal ceremony was held at the cathedral, as well as a first for the county. During the service the Queen presented specially minted Maundy money to the 88 men and 88 women from across Lancashire, who had been nominated for their good Christian works.

After waving to excited supporters outside the Railway Station, the royal party travelled slowly along the Boulevard and then Church Street, which was thronged with wellwishers.

A fleet of police motorcycles had heralded the Queen’s arrival, as the clergy stood and waited at the West Door, holding bouquets of flowers.

Every year, on Maundy Thursday, the current Monarch distributes the special coins to men and women aged 70 and over to mark their Christian service. They are nominated by their local Church of England Dioceses and gather from around the country in a different Cathedral each year to receive the honour.

READ MORE: Rossendale woman to receive Maundy money from Queen Camilla 

Due to His Majesty the King being unable to attend as a result of his recent cancer diagnosis and treatment, Her Majesty Queen Camilla will hand out the money on his behalf this year.

Sovereigns no longer wash the feet of the needy as they did in medieval times but 75 women and 75 men – signifying the King’s age – will be presented with two purses, one red and one white, filled with Maundy money.​

The King is to stress the importance of acts of friendship “especially in a time of need” in a personal Easter message in the wake of his and the Princess of Wales’s cancer diagnosis.

Charles’ pre-recorded audio – his first public words since Kate revealed she was undergoing chemotherapy – will be broadcast in his absence at a Royal Maundy service in Worcester Cathedral on Thursday.

He will say how Jesus set an “example of how we should serve and care for each other”, and how as a nation “we need and benefit greatly from those who extend the hand of friendship to us, especially in a time of need”.

While the King does not directly refer to his and his daughter-in-law’s health, his words will be interpreted as reflecting on the nation’s response to his and Kate’s challenges as they continue treatment for cancer.

The princess released an emotional video message last Friday revealing she has started a course of preventative chemotherapy.

She later was said to be “extremely moved” by the public support following her announcement.

Kate faced mounting online conspiracy theories about her whereabouts and her condition after retreating from public view to recuperate following major abdominal surgery in January.

The King told last month how he had been reduced to tears by the messages and cards of support he received from well-wishers.

The 75-year-old, who only acceded to the throne 18 months ago, will also reamplify his Coronation pledge “not to be served but to serve”.

He has recorded a Bible reading and, in his brief personal message, will describe the Maundy money recipients as “wonderful examples of such kindness” in “giving so much of their lives to the service of others in their communities”.