King Charles III’s reign has brought changes large and small in the months since Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8. On Tuesday, the Bank of England unveiled a new portrait of the king to appear on British banknotes, but added that they won’t enter into circulation until 2024. The same portraits of famous British historical figures—Winston Churchill, Jane Austen, JMW Turner, and Alan Turing—will continue to appear on the other side of the bills.
Ahead of the unveiling, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey explained the historical significance of the portrait. “I am very proud that the Bank is releasing the design of our new banknotes which will carry a portrait of King Charles III,” he said. “This is a significant moment, as the king is only the second monarch to feature on our banknotes.” Though the Bank only began featuring the image of the late queen on banknotes in 1960.
Earlier this year, the Bank announced that the change would take place gradually in order to reduce the cost and environmental impact, at the advice of the royal household. New banknotes will be printed to replace worn out ones, and notes featuring the late queen and the king will co-circulate. In keeping with the king’s emphasis on sustainability, the Royal Mail, the Bank of England, and the Royal Mint all received similar advice to introduce the new king’s image and cipher over time.
The Royal Mint unveiled its portrait of Charles by sculptor Martin Jennings in October, and quickly began producing a commemorative 50 pence coin that featured the king on one side and a design associated with the 1953 coronation on the other side. To celebrate, their Twitter account asked followers to come up with a rhyme in the vein of “Elf on a Shelf” to mixed results. The coins began circulating at banks and post offices this month. 9.6 billion of the coins are being produced in honor of the late queen’s 96 years of life. Over time, the estimated 27 billion coins bearing her effigy will be replaced.
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