The Royal Mint has unveiled the first coins featuring the portrait of Britain's new sovereign, King Charles III, who took over following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September.
The 50p coin and the commemorative £5 coin both include an image of the King created by sculptor Martin Jennings. The monarch personally approved the effigy, and is understood to be pleased with the likeness.
Following centuries-old tradition, the new coins show the monarch facing left – the opposite way to his predecessor. But that wasn't the only difference that fans noticed between the new coins and the coins featuring Her Majesty that we're all so familiar with.
"Can anyone explain why Charles isn’t wearing a crown, whereas Queen always wore her's on coins?" one royal fan tweeted, as someone else asked: "Can anyone explain why Charles won’t be wearing a crown on coins/notes but the Queen always did?"
Why isn't King Charles III wearing a crown on the new coins?
As with previous British kings, and unlike the Queen, King Charles III wears no crown on the coins that feature his portrait. That's because it is tradition that only female monarchs wear a crown on their coins, and if you look back through the coins over the last several hundred years you'll see just that.
Queen Elizabeth II wore a crown on her coins, but her father King George VI didn't. Similarly, coins featuring Queen Victoria showed her wearing a crown whilst her predecessor, King William IV, wore no crown on his coins.
What is inscribed on the new King Charles III coins?
The full inscription surrounding the effigy reads "CHARLES III • D • G • REX • F • D • 5 POUNDS • 2022", shortened from Latin, which translates to "King Charles III, by the Grace of God, Defender of the Faith".
What's on the other side of the new King Charles III coins?
The reverse of the commemorative £5 coin shows two new portraits of the Queen, charting her journey from a young monarch to a long-standing head of state as well as the dates of her birth and death. On the 50p coin, the reverse is a copy of the design used on the 1953 coin created to commemorate the Queen's coronation.
When will the new King Charles III coins go into circulation?
The Royal Mint has confirmed that 50p coins featuring the new monarch's portrait will be sold to collectors from early next week – the coins will then be available for general use before the end of the year, distributed according to demand by banks, building societies and post offices. Coins featuring King Charles III will co-circulate with coins featuring the late Queen, so those 27 billion coins will still be accepted in shops.
From the start of 2023, coins from the 1p up to the £2, which we use in day-to-day life, will be minted carrying the same image of King Charles III. These coins will be sent out when needed to replace damaged and older coins and to cover any extra demand. According to Anne Jessopp, chief executive of The Royal Mint, coins generally last for 20 years, which is why coins of both monarchs will be in circulation together for many years to come.
"People should not worry if they have coins with the Queen on. We will keep those coins in circulation," Jessopp said.
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