The recent death of Queen Elizabeth II resulted in several changes for the United Kingdom. Still, one of the most complicated – and protracted – of these would be the replacement of billions’ worth of banknotes and coins which have borne her likeness for nearly seven decades. The change won’t just affect the currency of the United Kingdom but that of several Commonwealth states, as well.
The Queen’s profile has appeared on British coinage since 1953, a year after she came to the throne, and her portrait has changed at least five times. On the other hand, her face first appeared on the country’s banknotes in 1960 and has been on them for over 60 years.
Now that she has passed and her son, now King Charles III, has ascended to the throne, the Bank of England and the Royal Mint are required to withdraw all currency bearing the Queen’s image from circulation and replace it with new notes and coins with the face of the new sovereign.
A Gradual Transition
Currently, there are over 4.7 million banknotes worth a total of £82 billion in circulation throughout the UK per the country’s central bank. According to the Mint, there are also approximately 29 billion coins presently in use.
Given the amount of currency involved, it is expected that new bills and coins will be gradually introduced into the system. As these are printed and make their way into general circulation, they will coexist with the old currency for a while.
Following the Queen’s death on September 8th, the Bank of England released a statement saying that banknotes with the image of the late sovereign will continue to be in circulation as legal tender. The same statement also noted that the iconic portraits of the Queen, which graced the currency throughout the years, were synonymous with some of the Bank’s most important work.
Likewise, the production of coins bearing the Queen’s likeness will continue at the Mint during the ongoing period of national mourning.
Plans to replace current banknotes and coins will be laid out at the end of the mourning period.
Changes in the Commonwealth
As Elizabeth II’s portrait also graced the banknotes and coinage of several Commonwealth nations, changes are also expected overseas.
The Queen’s portrait is featured on Canada’s synthetic fiber $20 banknote in recognition of her position as the country’s head of state. According to a spokesperson for the Bank of Canada, the note will remain in circulation as there is no legislative requirement to change the design despite changes to the Monarchy.
The same rule applies to Australia, where the Queen’s face is on the $5 note. A representative of the Reserve Bank of Australia announced no immediate plans to change it.