First coins featuring King Charles III go into production

First coins featuring King Charles III go into production

Updated: 3 months, 1 day, 7 hours, 46 minutes, 22 seconds ago

First coins featuring King Charles III go into production

There is a memorial 50 pence in honour of the late Queen

Author: Jon Burke

Published 52 minutes ago
Last updated 47 minutes ago

The Royal Mint has started producing the first coins of the King for circulation, beginning the transition from Queen Elizabeth II to her son's portrait on the nation's coinage.

The move represents the biggest change to UK coinage since decimalisation, with a memorial 50 pence in honour of the late Queen appearing in the public's change through banks and post offices from December.

Workers at the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, south Wales, will produce 9.6 million copies of the coin to mark the Queen's death at the age of 96.

In tribute to the Queen, the reverse of the 50p features the design that originally appeared on coins to commemorate her coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1953.

It includes the four quarters of the Royal Arms depicted within a shield, with emblems of the home nations - a rose, a thistle, a shamrock and a leek.

There are approximately 27 billion coins bearing the portrait of the late Queen currently in circulation in the UK and these will remain legal tender, being replaced over time as they become damaged or worn and to meet demand.

Historically, it has been common for coins featuring different monarchs to be used at the same time and this will now happen with coins of the late Queen and Charles.

Director of the Royal Mint Museum, Kevin Clancy, said: "For many people this will be the first time in their lives that they have seen a new monarch appear on money.

"It represents the biggest change to UK coinage since decimalisation and will usher in a new era where the coins of Queen Elizabeth II and Charles co-circulate in the UK.

"The new memorial 50 pence marks a moment in history and honours a landmark reign that lasted for 70 years."

The coins will be made on demand in line with the wishes of the King and the late Queen, who asked for minimal waste during the process.

Rebecca Morgan, director of collector services at the Royal Mint, confirmed that "nothing is removed or changed just for change's sake".

"It wasn't unusual to see two or three different monarchs on coins before decimalisation," she said.

"As a result of decimalisation, most people under the age of 50 only ever have seen Queen Elizabeth II in their pockets."

The 50 pence coin was chosen as it is one of the most popular for people to start collecting.

"I think it is really poignant that the King's first coins are in tribute to his late mother," Ms Morgan added.

"The only difference on the reverse of the coin is the date on either side of the leek, which is 2022 rather than 1953."

It takes between 18 months to two years to design a coin, with the monarch personally signing off each one.

Before her death, the Queen signed off a number of coins - including a Harry Potter commemorative series - and production of these will continue.

This will mean that two of the Harry Potter series will feature the Queen, with the final two bearing the portrait of the King.

Production of coins with the Queen's portrait will conclude by the end of the year.

Acclaimed British artist, Martin Jennings, who usually works in bronze and stone, designed the official portrait of Charles to be struck onto coins.

In the portrait, Charles faces to the left, the opposite direction to his mother. This is because tradition states monarchs face the opposite way to their predecessors on coinage.

Tradition also dictates that Kings do not wear crowns in their portraits on coins, while Queens are pictured crowned.

Mr Jennings worked with images of Charles taken to mark his 70th birthday and began by drawing his design on paper, before creating a model in plaster.

"It is extremely painstaking work with microns of material," he said. "It has to be an absolute likeness. It is a portrait of the monarch but also of the individual."

The completed plaster cast was then handed to experts at the Royal Mint, where it was digitally reduced to fit the size of each coin denomination.

"It has been a big design challenge," Mr Jennings said. "The placing of everything is exactly precise, such as the spacing between the letters, the proximity with the head.

"It is a huge honour. It is extraordinary to think that the smallest piece of work that I have ever done is that one that is going to be reproduced in the most multiples."

Previous works by Mr Jennings include a sculpture of poet Sir John Betjeman at St Pancras Station, one of nurse Mary Seacole by Westminster Bridge and a bronze bust of the Queen Mother at St Paul's Cathedral.

Mr Jennings, who officially started production of the 50p coins at the Royal Mint, described seeing them in person as "astonishing".

"So many are so quickly produced and they are all so perfect, it is remarkable," he said.

To make the 9.6 million coins, four presses will be running for 16 hours a day at the Royal Mint's site.

Each press can strike 400 coins per minute, making around 20,000 coins an hour.

The coins are checked and counted before being packed into cartons of 100,000, which are then sent to banks and sorting offices across the country.

King Charles III: A life in pictures

King Charles is born (1948)

Charles Philip Arthur George Windsor was born to then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip on November 14th, 1948, as the couple's first child. King Charles in 1952

When his grandfather George VI died and his mother ascended to the throne in 1952, Charles became the future heir of the monarchy at the age of four.
He also became the Duke of Cornwall. When he was 21, in 1969, he became entitled to the full income of the Duchy and took over its management. Charles' childhood

Growing up, Charles went to a boarding school for his education, studying at Gordonstoun private school in the north-east of Scotland.
Charles' experience at the school helped to shape him, saying in an interview that he was glad to have attended. King Charles at university

After finishing his A-Levels, Charles broke with royal tradition and went straight to university, where he obtained a 2:2 in a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Cambridge in 1970. This made Charles the first British heir to attain a university degree.Investiture of the Prince of Wales

In 1969, the Investiture of the Prince of Wales took place at Caernarfon Castle, where Charles was crowned by the Queen as the Prince of Wales.King Charles in the Navy

King Charles served in the Navy between 1971 to 1976. He trained as a Royal Air Force pilot and served on the frigate HMS Jupiter as part of its Pacific voyage.King Charles and Diana (1981)

In 1981, Prince Charles married Diana Spencer in the most-watched television event at the time. Over 1 billion people looked on as the Prince and Princess of Wales made their wedding vows.
The marriage birthed Charles' only children - William and Harry, but would end in tragedy as the couple would divorce in 1992. Princess Diana would later die in a car crash in Paris in 1997.Prince William's first day at Eton College

The King and Princess of Wales and brother Prince Harry join Prince William for his first day at Eton College in September 1995.Assassination attempt

Following his divorce from Diana, Charles continued to carry out royal duties. Whilst on a tour of Australia in 1994, King Charles was shot at twice by student David Kang.
David Kang was protesting about the treatment of Cambodian asylum seekers in Australia. Charles was not hurt and managed to dodge the bullet.King Charles and Camilla

King Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005, 13 years after his divorce from Diana. Because this was Charles' second marriage, he was unable to get married in a church and instead held a civil wedding. Charles' parents did not attend the ceremony, due to the Queen's role as head of the Church of England. Following their marriage, Camilla would go on to receive the title of 'Duchess of Cornwall'.Media presence

Prince Charles has kept his life relatively private following his marriage to Camilla. The Prince rarely spoke to newspapers and occasionally appeared on television, in order to maintain his privacy.
However, Charles has tried his hand at a number of positions, including presenting the weather for BBC Scotland while on a trip to Glasgow in 2012.Charity work

Over 40 years Prince Charles has set up 20 charities, he has been a keen supporter of charity work, setting up the Prince's Trust in 1976 to help vulnerable people get their life back on track.
Since then, Charles has been a vocal supporter of human rights, calling for more action against abuse worldwide. Most recently, the Prince commissioned a series of portraits of seven Holocaust survivors in early 2022.King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort

Following the sad death of Queen Elizabeth II, Charles immediately became King Charles III on 8th September.
In the days following his mother's death, he met members of the public with his wife Camilla, now Queen Consort.
On 10th September, an historic meeting at St James' Palace confirmed his role of King.King Charles III delivers his first address to parliament

King Charles said he felt "the weight of history" as he addressed parliament for the first time as King, adding he vowed to follow the example set by his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

Hear all the latest news from across the West Midlands on the hour, every hour, on 103.1 and 97.2FM (Wolverhampton, Black Country and Shropshire), 96.4FM (Birmingham), 97 and 102.9FM (Coventry and Warwickshire), 97.6FM, 102.8FM and 96.7FM (Herefordshire and Worcestershire), DAB, at freeradio.co.uk, and on the Free Radio app.