The Bank of England has revealed the design of the first banknotes that will include the image of King Charles.
The new monarch’s portrait will appear on all four polymer banknotes, meaning the £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes. His portrait is on the front of the banknotes, in the same position as we previously saw the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, while his image also appears in cameo in the see-through security window on each banknote.
The addition of the portrait of King Charles is the only change to the existing designs for each note. As a result, on a £5 note you will still see an image of Winston Churchill, the £10 note will feature Jane Austen, the £20 note includes JMW Turner, and the £50 note features Alan Turing.
According to the Bank of England, the new notes will be entering circulation by the middle of 2024.
However, that doesn’t mean that notes featuring the portrait of the late Queen will be withdrawn. These notes remain legal tender, and can be used as normal.
Instead, the new banknotes which include the image of King Charles will be printed to replace worn banknotes and to meet any increase in demand for banknotes. This means that notes featuring the late monarch and King Charles will be in circulation at the same time.
Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, commented: “I am very proud that the Bank is releasing the design of our new banknotes which will carry a portrait of King Charles III. This is a significant moment, as The King is only the second monarch to feature on our banknotes. People will be able to use these new notes as they start to enter circulation in 2024.”
The new King Charles 50p
The release of the new banknote images comes just a couple of weeks after the new 50p coins including the image of the King entered circulation.
Around 4.9 million 50p coins bearing The King’s portrait were sent to Post Office branches across the country, to be distributed as change when purchases are made within those branches.
Around 9.6 million memorial 50p pieces, in tribute to the late monarch and her age when she passed, are also entering circulation. As a result, as with the banknotes, coins featuring both His Majesty and Queen Elizabeth II will co-circulate.
Rebeca Morgan, Director of Collector Services at The Royal Mint, said, that the introduction of the new coins marked “a new era” for coinage in the UK.
She added: "It’s a fantastic opportunity for coin collectors to add to their collections, or start one for the first time. We anticipate a new generation of coin collectors emerging, with people keeping a close eye on their change to try and spot a new 50p that bears the portrait of our new King.
“The Royal Mint has been trusted to make coins bearing the Monarch’s effigy for over 1,100 years and we are proud to continue this tradition into the reign of King Charles III.”
The King Charles 50p
The King’s effigy has been created by renowned British sculptor Martin Jennings and has been personally approved by His Majesty. In keeping with tradition, The King’s portrait faces to the left, the opposite direction to that of Queen Elizabeth II.
Martin Jennings said: “It is a privilege to sculpt the first official effigy of His Majesty and to receive his personal approval for the design.
“The portrait was sculpted from a photograph of The King and was inspired by the iconic effigies that have graced Britain’s coins over the centuries.
“It is the smallest work I have created, but it is humbling to know it will be seen and held by people around the world for centuries to come.”
The reverse of the 50p features a design that originally appeared on the 1953 Coronation Crown which was struck to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation at Westminster Abbey.
It includes the four quarters of the Royal Arms depicted within a shield. In between each shield is an emblem of the home nations: a rose, a thistle, a shamrock and a leek.
What does it mean for Queen Elizabeth II coins?
There are around 27 billion coins currently circulating in the UK which include the image of Queen Elizabeth II, according to the Royal Mint.
Crucially, all of these coins with the image of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II remain legal tender and in active circulation, meaning that you can continue to spend them as and when necessary.
It’s not unusual, historically, for coins featuring the images of different monarchs to be in circulation at the same time. It helps to ensure a smooth transition, while doing so also reduces the impact to the environment, as well as keeping costs lower.
As with the banknotes, the coins will be replaced over time when they become damaged or worn, so should there be an increase in demand for coins.
Anne Jessopp, Chief Executive Officer of The Royal Mint, said: “The Royal Mint has been trusted to make coins bearing the Monarch’s effigy for over 1,100 years and we are proud to continue this tradition into the reign of King Charles III.
“Although technology has progressed, we continue to honour British craftsmanship passed down through the centuries. Our team of skilled modellers, tool makers and engravers will ensure that The King’s effigy will be faithfully replicated onto millions of coins
“Her Late Majesty ruled with heart and devotion for seventy years, and this memorial collection commemorates her remarkable legacy as Britain’s longest-serving monarch. To ensure everyone can hold a piece of history in their hand, the 50p will also enter circulation in the UK.”
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John Fitzsimons has been writing about finance since 2007, and is a former editor of Mortgage Solutions and loveMONEY. Since going freelance in 2016 he has written for publications including The Sunday Times, The Mirror, The Sun, The Daily Mail and Forbes, and is committed to helping readers make more informed decisions about their money.
- Adam FrenchEditor, The Money Edit
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