Queen Elizabeth II died yesterday at the age of 96 after 70 years on the throne. She’s been a big part of our traditions and everyday lives for decades, and her face is on many of the things we use every day.
Now, Prince Charles has been crowned the King, and things might start to look quite different as a result. So what does the Queen’s death mean for things like banknotes, stamps, coins, passports and even letterboxes? Here’s everything we know.
What will happen to stamps?
Every stamp issued since 1967 has featured the side profile of the Queen. But from now on, Royal Mail will cease to produce any stamps of Elizabeth’s face, and create new ones featuring King Charles III. But fear not, stamp collectors, you’ll still be allowed to use your Lizzy stamps on letters and parcels.
If you’re wondering what the new Charles stamps will look like, you’ll have to wait a little while, as they’re not giving anything away about the new designs just yet. But there were some Charles stamps released back in 2018 for his 70th birthday, so they might give you an idea.
What will happen to postboxes?
Yep, it’s not just stamps that are going to start looking different, it’s postboxes too. More than 60 percent of postboxes in the UK have the EIIR mark of Queen Elizabeth II (E for Elizabeth, R for Regina, meaning queen).
New postboxes will now have the King’s cypher instead, but to be honest, they’re not going to be rolling them out very much, so you might not notice. In Scotland, postboxes have the Scottish crown instead, so those won’t change.
What will happen to coins and banknotes?
There are 29 billion coins in the UK, and they all have the Queen’s face on them. There were new ones released in 2015 when the Queen was 88, and there have been five different designs in total. She has also appeared on Bank of England notes since 1960 (though not those issued in Scotland and Northern Ireland).
At some point, there will be new coins and banknotes with King Charles III’s face instead, but the Royal Mint is keeping quiet on when these are going to get rolled out. In the meantime, the Queen’s coins and banknotes will remain in circulation, likely for a very long time, so don’t go throwing them out yet.
One thing we do know about the new King Charles III coin is that he will be facing the left (the opposite way to Queen Elizabeth II), as the direction the monarch faces swaps with each new monarch. The new designs will be made at the Royal Mint in south Wales.
What will happen to passports?
Your passports are going to start looking different too. Currently, passports are in the name of Her Majesty, but the wording will now be changed on the inside cover to ‘His Majesty’. But don’t panic – existing passports are still valid for travel.
What will happen to the national anthem?
Yep, you guessed it, the national anthem is going to have a lyric change. ‘God Save the Queen’ will be no more once Charles is officially proclaimed King. This will be done in a formal ceremony, and a public announcement will be made from the balcony, including the phrase ‘God Save the King’.
What will happen to police helmets?
This one you might have forgotten about, but the Queen’s face appears front and centre on all police helmet plates in England. This will now be changed to the face of King Charles III, but there hasn’t been word about when this will happen yet.
What will happen to the Queen’s Counsel?
Well, the short answer is exactly what you think is going to happen to the Queen’s Counsel (hint: it’s going to become the King’s Counsel). But all that means is that barristers and solicitors who have been appointed by the monarch to be Queen’s Counsel will have a name change.
And... Ketchup bottles?
Yes, really. Some of your groceries and beauty products at home have a ‘Royal Warrant’, which means the company making them also supplies the Royal Household. These products (around 900 of them in total) have a little note on them saying ‘By appointment to Her Majesty the Queen’.
Now that the Queen has died, these Royal Warrants are void – and companies with a warrant have two years to remove the Royal Arms from their products. Charles has already issued some of his own warrants as Prince of Wales, and these will continue into his reign as King.