UK: Why does Charles III look back on future coins?

End of the tension in the United Kingdom. One of the big questions the British asked themselves has just been answered: they now know what the portrait of their new king will look like on coins. Charles III’s profile will thus replace his mother, Elizabeth II, who died aged 96 on September 8, for “the next few months” when the new coins go into circulation.

Unlike his mother, the new monarch has his gaze turned to the left

The portrait of King Charles III for future coins bearing his image was actually unveiled on Friday by the body responsible for minting British currency, the Royal Mint.

This portrait will appear on two coins in a special series celebrating the life of Queen Elizabeth II: one for 5 pounds sterling and another for 50 pence. They will come into circulation”in the coming months“, probably around the month of December, specifies the British monetary institution in a press release.

The official portrait that will decorate future coins bearing the image of Charles III, the work of sculptor Martin Jennings, was designed from a photo and approved by the king.

This is the smallest piece of art I have ever made“, he comments, saying that he is touched”knowing that it will be seen and loved by so many people“.

The major difference between these new coins and those with the image of Elizabeth II lies in the orientation of the portrait of Charles III, who has his gaze turned to the left, unlike his mother.

The British Royal Family website gives the reason for this change: a tradition established since the reign of Charles II (17th century) want monarchs to be depicted on coins in the opposite direction of their immediate predecessor. The profile of the one who ruled from 1660 to 1685 was oriented to the right.

The only departure from this tradition, Edward VIII, whose reign was particularly short – from January to December 1936 – expressed the desire to be portrayed with the gaze directed to the left, arguing that this was his best profile at the time. have appeared on parts with correct orientation.

However, after his abdication, the tradition was reinstated during the reign of his successor George VI. The portrait of Elizabeth II’s father is actually turned to the left… confirming the fact that her brother’s portrait should have actually been oriented to the right.

27 billion coins with the image of Elizabeth II in circulation in Great Britain

Coins bearing the image of the new British monarch will bear the inscription in Latin: “CHARLES III • D • G • REX • ​​​​F • D • 5 books • 2022“, it is “King Charles III, by the grace of God, defender of the faith” – one of the titles of the ruler.

The reverse of the commemorative £5 coin will feature two new portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, designed by artist John Bergdahl in collaboration with the Royal Mint.

All British coins bearing the image of Elizabeth II remain legal tender and in circulation. It is historically customary to have coins of different monarchs in circulation at the same time.“, says the Royal Mint, which”has put the portraits of the royal family on coins for over 1,100 years“.

The organization specifies that there are currently 27 billion coins in the United Kingdom bearing the image of Elizabeth II and that they will be replaced over time when damaged.


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