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What will happen to UK currency now that the Queen is dead?

Joe Harker

Published 
| Last updated 

What will happen to UK currency now that the Queen is dead?

Throughout the past decades there has been one consistent face on the currency circulating around the UK - and that is of Queen Elizabeth II.

While her image on the money has changed over the years as she herself changed, the Queen has been a mainstay of Britain's coins and banknotes.

But now that Britain's longest reigning monarch has passed away, it means there will be all sorts of alterations to a status quo which has been in place since she ascended to the throne in 1952.

The change in the UK's head of state is a massive upheaval which will change so many things from the national anthem, which will revert to 'God Save The King', to the royal emblems displayed up and down the country.

Those symbols will now be changed to recognise King Charles as Britain's new monarch.

One of the biggest changes people will notice in their daily lives is what will happen to the money in their pocket in the years following the Queen's death.

The most recent image of Queen Elizabeth II on UK coins is from 2015 and changed five times over her reign. Credit: Steve Cavalier / Alamy Stock Photo
The most recent image of Queen Elizabeth II on UK coins is from 2015 and changed five times over her reign. Credit: Steve Cavalier / Alamy Stock Photo

Now that the Queen has died, new currency bearing Charles' image will eventually enter circulation - slowly but steadily replacing the notes and coins bearing his late mother's face.

The first step in this transition is the selection of designs for coins and notes bearing a portrait of the new King, a process which will take time.

Money with the Queen's image on it will still be legal tender, so the cash you have on hand isn't going to suddenly become worthless.

Once the image of King Charles III that will be on the money has been chosen, it will start to be printed on coins and notes.

From that point onwards there will be a steady and gradual change as new coins and notes with the King on them enter circulation.

According to the Bank of England, many new notes are printed every day and distributed around the nation to replace old, worn out notes and in anticipation of demand for cash.

The portrait of the Queen which appeared on UK banknotes is from 1990. Credit: Ascannio / Alamy Stock Photo
The portrait of the Queen which appeared on UK banknotes is from 1990. Credit: Ascannio / Alamy Stock Photo

The Queen first appeared on a banknote all the way back in 1935 when her grandfather, King George V, was the monarch.

That was the Canadian $20 note, with a picture of the young Princess Elizabeth appearing on the currency as she has done for years not only on UK money but also on notes in many Commonwealth countries.

The Queen did not actually feature on a British banknote until 1960, when her portrait appeared on the £1 note.

She has appeared on the currencies of at least 33 countries around the world, making her the world record holder for appearing on the money of most nations.

As for the portrait used on the money itself, artists take an official portrait of the monarch and add it to the banknotes while they are being printed, other images are added for authentication to ward off counterfeiters.

On coins each King or Queen faces in the opposite direction to their predecessor, since the Queen faced to the right on coinage that means if the tradition continues then Charles will face left.

There have been five separate pictures of the Queen on coins during her reign as she has aged from a young woman ascending to the throne in the wake of her father's sudden death to the venerable head of state.

Featured Image Credit: Keith Morris/Alamy/Ivan Vdovin/Alamy

Topics: UK News, News, The Queen, Money

Joe Harker
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