United Kingdom

Change of reign: New commemorative coins to feature both King and late Queen

The first portrait of King Charles III to appear on currency was unveiled on Friday as the Royal Mint marks the end of one era and the start of another with its first “double monarch” coin.

The new King’s image, designed to look “more human” than previous official portraits of sovereigns, will appear on commemorative £5 coins and 50p coins in circulation before the end of the year.

They will be joined in the same coin by pictures of the late Queen Elizabeth II in a gentle transition for the public into a new reign.

The King’s effigy has been created by sculptor Martin Jennings, and has been personally approved by him, the Mint said.

The final image was presented to him for approval following the death of his mother and was created from photographs rather than a live sitting.

In keeping with tradition, the King’s portrait faces to the left, the opposite direction to Queen Elizabeth II.

Chris Barker, historian at the Royal Mint Museum, said it was a “very classic coinage portrait”, reminiscent of George V and George VI.

The sculptor, he said, has “managed to achieve a very good likeness”, adding: “It’s very warm with a good sense of humanity – probably more human and less idealised than some of the portraits we’ve seen before. 

“It’s both accessible and dignified, reflecting his years of service.

“The King has followed that general tradition that we have in British coinage, going all the way back to Charles II actually, that the monarch faces in the opposite direction to their predecessor.”

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