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The new five pounds coin
Photograph: PA / Aaron Chown

When will the King Charles coins enter circulation?

It’s the biggest change to UK coinage since decimalisation in 1971

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson

Since the beginning of King Charles III’s reign, we’ve already seen changes to the UK’s national anthem and news about updated stamps and postboxes. There’s been speculation over whether we will get a new bank holiday to mark his coronation. But perhaps one of the most anticipated changes will be the introduction of the shiny new King Charles III coins, which are already being manufactured by the Royal Mint.

If you’re a budding numismatist – or, like us, you’re just damn curious – here is everything you need to know about the biggest change to UK coinage since decimalisation in 1971.

Which coins will Charles III feature on?

According to the Royal Mint, the King’s portrait will appear on a special £5 Crown and 50p coin, both commemorating the life and legacy of the late Queen.

When will the King Charles coins and banknotes be in circulation for the public to use?

The Royal Mint has already started to manufacture the new coins featuring the portrait of King Charles. We’ll start to see his familiar face on our change from around December this year, when the new 50ps gradually start to enter circulation through banks and post offices across the country. 

Who designed the 50p coin?

The new 50p coin was designed by British sculptor Martin Jennings, and the design was approved by the King himself, who is understood to be pleased with the likeness of the effigy. 

‘It has to be an image that will persist over the years and that will represent the generality of what people imagine monarchy to be about,’ said Jennings. ‘It’s not just a portrait of him, it also needs to contain the role [of King].’

The Royal Mint will produce 9.6 million copies of the 50p coin to mark the Queen’s death at the age of 96. On the reverse of the coin, there’s the same design which originally appeared on coins to commemorate her coronation at Westminster Abbey, back in 1953.

What’s different about the £5 coin?

The reverse of the new commemorative £5 coin shows two new portraits of the Queen – featuring both a younger and older image of her to chart her journey as a monarch from birth to death. 

Can I still use old coins and banknotes with the Queen on them?

If you’ve got a load of old change hanging around in a jar somewhere, don’t worry – we’ll still see money with images of  Queen Elizabeth II for quite some time. They’ll still be considered legal tender and accepted as a form of payment. 

How long will it take to phase out coins with the Queen on them?

The old coins will only be replaced once they are worn or damaged, following the wishes of the Royal Family, who asked for minimal waste. It’s likely that we’ll see coins with both monarchs in circulation next to each other for several years, as the mint slowly phases out damaged Elizabeth II coins.

Why does the Queen face right on coins? 

You might notice that the image of the King on the new coins faces the opposite direction from his mother. It’s keeping in line with tradition, when faces are reversed on coins when there’s a new monarch.

Why does King Charles not wear a crown on coins?

Unlike the Queen, King Charles III doesn’t wear a crown in his portrait on the coins. It is tradition for only female monarchs to wear a crown on their coins: Queen Elizabeth II wore a crown on her coins, but her father King George VI didn’t, while Queen Victoria also wore a crown.

ICYMI: farewell to the Ford Fiesta, a car that captured this country’s soul.

Plus: fines for riding trains without a ticket are rising from £20 to £100.

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