The Royal Mint, the official maker of UK coins, has announced that the first coinage featuring King Charles III has started to appear in circulation.
The first coin to bear The King’s portrait – and mark the historic transition from Queen Elizabeth II to King Charles III in the public’s change – is 50 pence commemorating the life and legacy of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth on the reverse (tails side).
A commemorative version of the coin was actually released in October and saw record visitors to The Royal Mint’s website in the 24 hours following.
However, Post Office branches throughout the country are now receiving 4.9 million 50 pence coins bearing The King’s effigy, including the Aldwych branch which is close to Clarence House and is the residence of King Charles III. The coin will begin distributing as change when customers make a purchase in store. A total of 9.6 million 50p’s will enter circulation, with the rest entering in line with demand.
Rebecca Morgan, Director of Collector Services at The Royal Mint, said: “Today marks a new era for UK coinage, with the effigy of King Charles III appearing on 50ps in circulation. 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.”
Nick Read, Chief Executive Office of the Post Office, said: “It is a tremendous honour for the Post Office and for Postmasters that the first coinage featuring King Charles III is being released into circulation via our extensive branch network. December is our busiest time of the year so the coin will be entering our network in a phased manner. If you don’t receive the new 50p in your change on your first visit to a Post Office you may well get it in your change in a subsequent visit, so keep a look out for it.”
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 Queen Elizabeth II.
The reverse of the 50 pence features a design that originally appeared on the 1953 Coronation Crown. It was struck to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation at Westminster Abbey and 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.
All UK coins bearing the effigy of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will remain legal tender and in active circulation. Historically it has been commonplace for coins featuring the effigies of different monarchs to co-circulate. This ensures a smooth transition, with minimal environmental impact and cost.
There are approximately 27 billion coins currently circulating in the UK bearing the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. These will be replaced over time as they become damaged or worn and to meet demand for new coins.
As well as making the official coinage of Britain, The Royal Mint has diversified its portfolio to offer commemorative and historic coins, precious metal investments and luxury jewellery.
The Bank of England has also this week unveiled the design for the new King Charles III banknotes, making Charles the first King in British history to feature on a paper legal tender.
Photo credits: Royal Mint