Money featuring Queen Elizabeth II will remain in circulation, but new coins and banknotes featuring King Charles III will gradually appear over a number of years, according to a coin-maker.
In this country, our money has featured royal figures for over 1,200 years, and by 800 AD coins regularly bore the names of the kings for whom they were struck.
There are around 29 billion coins in circulation in the UK and the portrait that sits in our pockets, purses and wallets is currently Queen Elizabeth II. Coins featuring other monarchs ended with decimalisation in 1971.
Britannia Coin Company director Jon White told GB News: “For as long as we’re alive we will continue to see coins featuring Queen Elizabeth II. It’s just that over the years, gradually, we will see new coins featuring King Charles III creep in and they will sit side by side and so you still continue to spend them.”
The Royal Mint worked closely with the late Queen throughout her reign and has documented her journey from new Queen to the UK’s longest reigning monarch across five different coin portraits. It has issued a statement saying that coins and banknotes bearing the image of the Queen remain legal tender and in circulation.
White said: “The Royal Mint will be inviting medalists, designers – maybe a shortlist of 3, 4, 5 – we don’t know at this point.”
Designers will submit their version of a portrait of King Charles III from which a winner will be chosen. “That final image,” White explains, “will then be presented to the King. He has the ultimate veto, if he doesn’t like his image it’s back to the drawing board.”
Traditionally monarchs face the opposite way from their predecessor on coins. Queen Elizabeth faces right while her father King George VI faced left.
Our monarch’s portrait features on coins and notes in countries around the world. In fact, according to Banknote World: ‘Queen Elizabeth II holds the Guinness World Record for the most appearance on banknotes from more countries than any other person in history.’ They include Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a number of Caribbean and Pacific island states.
Whether Charles III will automatically replace her on new bank notes has been the subject of speculation in some countries.
In Australia where she features on the $5 note, Andrew Leigh, assistant minister for treasury, said today that ‘King Charles III will not “automatically” appear on Australia’s $5 note because Queen Elizabeth II featured due to her “personal” status.’ His comments were made at the Royal Australian Mint which is preparing to mint coins featuring King Charles.
In Canada, the Queen appears on the $20 note. “We’ve had a whole series of monarchs on our money since the turn of the 20th century,” says Dimitry Anastakis, a history professor at the University of Toronto. “When the monarch changes, the money changes.” Anastakis noted it’s likely King Charles will appear on Canadian coins, but not necessarily on the bank note. He acknowledges there has been some debate over whether Charles should replace his mother. He points out having the monarch depicted on their currency is more a tradition than a requirement.
The issue may become moot as we become an increasingly cashless society. According to a recent UK Finance report, there have been major changes in the way we make payments, with significant growth in the use of contactless, mobile phones and internet banking. This has led to a reduction in cash usage which now makes up only 17% of all payments.
Perhaps, by the end of King Charles III’s reign, cash will be a thing of the past.