The death of Queen Elizabeth II is ushering in a lot of changes around England (for one, Charles is King now, lol) and some of said changes are more complicated than others. Charles moving into Buckingham Palace? Easy. Figuring out what to do with the billions of coins, banknotes, and stamps with the Queen’s face on them? Not so much.
Queen Elizabeth reigned for 70 years, and as a result her face is on pretty much everything. According to The Guardian, there are four and a half billion sterling bank notes featuring Her Majesty’s famous profile (worth £80 billion). And on top of that, the Queen features on bank notes of other countries including Canada, New Zealand, and other parts of the Commonwealth.
So…what’s the plan?
All the Notes and Coins Will Be Replaced Over Time
Eventually, King Charles’s face will be on British currency, a process that is expected to take two full years at the very least. Per The Guardian, back in the day when changes between monarchs happened more often, it was “common” to have coins featuring different monarch’s faces in the rotation. Plus, the Queen herself had multiple coin portraits done over the years, so it’s not as if this is a new concept! As royal expert Jonathan Sacerdoti tells E! News, “It’s not like suddenly the cash in our pockets isn’t going to be worth anything. Those things will be phased out gradually.”
So yeah: coins with the Queen’s face on them will still be usable—as confirmed by the Royal Mint (which makes British coins) on its website. As they put it, “Yes, all United Kingdom circulating coins bearing portraits of Queen Elizabeth II remain legal tender and in circulation. Further information will follow.”
The Bank of England also released a statement saying, “Current banknotes featuring the image of Her Majesty The Queen will continue to be legal tender.”
So what about other countries with the Queen’s face on coins? The Bank of Canada reportedly says, “There is no legislative requirement to change the design within a prescribed period when the Monarch changes,” while Bloomberg reports that The Reserve Bank of New Zealand will roll out its stock coins featuring the Queen and then eventually make new ones with Charles. According to them, “It will be several years before we need to introduce coins featuring King Charles the Third, and longer until stocks of $20 notes are exhausted.”
Charles’s Profile Will Face a Different Direction Than the Queen’s
While the Queen’s profile faces to the right on coins, Charles will face to the left. The reason for this is simple: it’s traditional for portraits to alter directions when a new monarch takes the throne.
Nigel Fletcher of King’s College London tells the New York Times that “it may have a practical use in the fact that it obviously marks a difference from the previous reign,” and that after an image of King Charles is decided upon, moulds and casts will be produced to make the new currency.
‘Kay, But What About Stamps?
Same general idea. The Guardian reports that new stamps will feature King Charles—though post boxes with ER, Queen Elizabeth’s royal cypher, won’t be removed. Plus, apparently there are a bunch of old ones with King George VI’s GR cypher floating around still, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Welp, there you have it. You now know more about how coins, stamps, and banknotes work in England than most people. A pretty impressive feat, especially if you don’t even live in the country and this info helps you in no way (me). Bye!