From coins to stamps, all the things to change after Queen Elizabeth's death

From coins to stamps, all the things to change after Queen Elizabeth's death

From coins to stamps

Among the phases following the death of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, which took place on Thursday 8 September, there are very concrete ones. In addition to the plan to manage the funeral and succession, the so-called London Bridge operation, it will in fact be necessary to replace all the iconography of the queen with that of the new king. Today, in fact, his effigies, symbols and seals appear on many objects of common use, such as stamps, coins, banknotes, but also passports, mailboxes, local flags, as the tradition of the United Kingdom wants.

Coins Today there are around 4.5 billion banknotes in circulation with the queen's face printed on them, totaling around 80 billion pounds. For the moment, the Bank of England has limited itself to reassuring citizens about the validity of the sterling course depicting Elizabeth II, but after the period of mourning and the funeral, an announcement is expected that will provide details on how banknotes and coins will change. According to the Guardian, it will take at least two years for the pounds featuring the face of the new King Charles III to come into circulation. In fact, the project must first be presented to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the Minister of Economy, and must then be personally approved by the reigning sovereign. When Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne more than 70 years ago, it took about a year for pounds to begin circulating with her face on it.

Although there are no official announcements, it is likely that the profile of the new king will be shown facing left. In fact, tradition has it that there is an alternation in the direction of the profiles, and Queen Elizabeth is depicted facing right. According to the Telegraph, the new king may have already posed for the necessary portraits.

Stamps A similar argument applies to stamps. According to the Guardian, the Royal Mail is unlikely to modify the mailboxes to remove the Queen's seal, postage stamps depicting the new king, presumably always facing left, will soon be put into circulation.

Hymns, prayers and oaths of loyalty There will then be a series of changes related to the habits of British citizens and the protocol on certain government procedures. The text of the national anthem will be changed from God save our gracious Queen to God save our gracious King. As the sovereign is also the supreme governor of the Church of England, there are some prayers that directly refer to the queen that will need to be changed. Finally, the oath of allegiance to the throne will also be changed. All members of the British Parliament must indeed pledge allegiance to the sovereign before taking up their duties. Today the text of the promise explicitly mentions the queen: "I (name of member) swear to Almighty God that I will be faithful and bring true fidelity to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to the law."

Coins, stamps and passports: what changes now that Charles is King?

Coins, stamps and postboxes will now change as King Charles III starts his reign. Photo: Luke MacGregor/Reuters

The Queen's death means that money, coins and stamps currently in circulation will be replaced with new ones to mark the new reign of King Charles III.


All 29 billion coins in circulation in the UK have the Queen's head on them.

The Royal Mint won't say how or when it will start issuing coins with King Charles III's head on them, but it's likely that the Queen's coins will remain in circulation for many years, and that the process to replace them will be a gradual one.

Coins featuring the new King will show him facing to the left.

It is a tradition from the 17th century to alternate the way successive monarchs are facing. Elizabeth II’s effigy faces to the right.

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Banks and post offices will issue the newly designed coins and notes and collect the older versions.

A new portrait of King Charles III will be commissioned, from which millions of pounds worth of new currency will be printed by the Royal Mint and distributed across the UK.

The Royal Mint advisory committee needs to send recommendations for new coins to the chancellor and obtain royal approval.

Designs are then chosen and the final choices approved by the chancellor and then the King.

Produced by the Royal Mint in 1981 this silver crown was issued to celebrate the wedding of Princes Charles and Diana. Photo: The Royal Mint

The Queen’s coins did not appear until 1953 — the year after her accession.

It’s not just British money that is affected by the change as the Queen’s image features on the currency of 35 countries worldwide — more than any other monarch.

These include Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Fiji and Cyprus, where she appears on some notes and coins due to her position as head of the Commonwealth. Some countries may even choose to keep currency featuring the Queen to honour her legacy.

All notes and coins will remain legal tender.


The new King will at some stage feature on British stamps, and others around the Commonwealth.

Since 1967, all stamps issued by the Royal Mail (RMG.L) have featured an embossed silhouette of the side profile of Queen Elizabeth II.

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For her first stamps as monarch, the Queen was photographed by Dorothy Wilding three weeks after acceding to the throne and again around two months later, finally approving the image in May 1952.

The portrait from 1952 was replaced in 1967 by the famous sculptured head by Arnold Machin, accompanied by the tiny cameo silhouette of the Queen.

It's thought to be the most reproduced work of art in history, with more than 200 billion examples produced so far.

Royal Mail will now stop producing Queen Elizabeth II stamps. Photo: PA

The new King has featured on stamps before, but Royal Mail won't yet say what the new designs with him will look like.

New stamps are shown to the Stamp Advisory Committee before a proof of the new design is printed, showing what the finished stamp will look like at actual size.

Read more: FTSE rises as King Charles III becomes monarch after death of the Queen

When the final proof has been approved by Royal Mail and the Stamp Advisory Committee, it is shown to the monarch for approval before printing.


As well as putting the monarch on stamps, the Royal Mail puts royal cyphers on many postboxes.

More than 60% of the UK's 115,000 postboxes carry the EIIR mark of Queen Elizabeth II — E for Elizabeth and R for Regina, which means queen.

The Royal Mail puts royal cyphers on many postboxes. Photo: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

At the start of the Queen’s reign in 1952, there were objections in Scotland to her being styled Elizabeth II because the Tudor queen Elizabeth I was never a queen of Scotland.

A Post Office pillar box in Edinburgh bearing the EIIR cypher was defaced and later blown up.

Its replacement was left blank.


British passports are issued in the name of the Queen with the wording: 'Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.'

Current and previous versions of British passports. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters

As with currency and stamps, rather than a mass recall which would be both a huge operation and expensive, passports with this wording will be phased out as they expire.

New wording, reflecting the new king, will then take their place. Much in the same way we've seen the old burgundy passports replaced with blue ones after Brexit.

The reigning monarch doesn't need a British passport when travelling overseas, given that the document is issued in their name, and so King Charles III won't need one.

Watch: Queen mourned at Buckingham Palace