Queen Elizabeth is represented in several currencies – now what? | Explainer News

Queen Elizabeth II has been featured on British banknotes and coins for decades. Her portrait is also featured on currency in dozens of other places around the world as a reminder of the colonial reach of the British Empire.

So what will happen after her death this week? It will take time for the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries to replace monarchs with their money.

But that doesn’t mean the accounts don’t work – they do.

Here’s a look at what’s to come for Money featuring the late Queen:

A change of monarchs

The portrait of the Queen on British banknotes and coins is expected to be replaced by an image of King Charles III, but this will not happen immediately.

“The current banknotes bearing the image of Her Majesty the Queen will continue to be legal tender,” the Bank of England said.

An announcement about the existing paper money issued by the UK central bank will be made after the end of the official 10-day mourning period, it said.

With 4.7 billion UK banknotes worth £82 billion ($95 billion) in circulation and around 29 billion coins, British money bearing the Queen’s image is likely to be in circulation for years.

“Instead of all current coins and notes being surrendered, the process will be gradual and many of the Queen Elizabeth II portrait coins will remain in circulation for many years to come,” according to Coin Expert, a British coin research website.

After Charles assumes the crown at his coronation, a new portrait will need to be made to be used on banknotes and coins with a new design, the website said.

Coins with him will show him facing left, replacing the Queen’s gaze to the right in line with tradition dating back to the 17th century. It dictated that monarchs be shown in profile and in reverse to their predecessors.

Bundles of British pounds sterling banknotes are arranged in piles at the headquarters of Money Service Austria in Vienna, Austria, November 16, 2017.
Bundles of British pounds sterling banknotes are arranged in piles [File: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters]

What about other countries?

The currencies of other nations that feature the Queen – from Australian, Canadian and Belizean dollars – will also be updated with the new monarch, but the process may take longer because “it is much easier to impose a new design in the country from which originated , not in other countries where there may be a different jurisdiction,” Coin Expert said.

Canada’s central bank said its current $20 bill, made of a synthetic polymer, is intended “to circulate for years to come.”

“There is no legal requirement to change the design within a prescribed period when the monarch changes,” the Bank of Canada said.

Generally, when a new portrait subject is chosen for Canadian money, the process begins with a new design being drawn up and a new note is ready for issue “several years later,” the bank said.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has said it will issue its entire supply of coins featuring the Queen before new ones featuring Charles are released. The Queen is also featured on the $20 note, which is “rarely” made and there is “no plan to destroy stocks or shorten the life of existing notes just because they feature the Queen,” the bank said.

“It will be several years before we need to introduce coins bearing the image of King Charles III, and more until the supply of $20 notes is exhausted,” it added.

Banknote - Great Britain - Reuters
A British £10 note is seen in illustration [File: Phil Noble/Reuters]

The Queen’s Currency

She first appeared on money when she was still a princess. It was 1935 when the Canadian $20 bill featured the eight-year-old Princess Elizabeth, whose grandfather King George V was then monarch, as part of a new series of notes.

Canadian $20 notes were updated with a new portrait of the Queen in 1954, a year after her coronation, and her portrait began to appear on other currencies around the world, mainly in British colonies and Commonwealth countries.

British accounts did not receive her image until 1960 – seven years after her coronation. The Bank of England was then given permission to use her image on paper money, starting with the £1 note, although the formal and regal image was criticized as too stark and unrealistic.

She became the first monarch to appear on British banknotes. Meanwhile, British coins have depicted kings and queens for more than 1,000 years.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth prepares to deliver a speech at the official opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the Ballroom of Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, April 19, 2018.
Queen Elizabeth prepares to deliver a speech at Buckingham Palace in 2018 [File: Jonathan Brady/Reuters]

Currencies outside the UK

At one time, Queen Elizabeth II appeared on at least 33 different currencies, more than any other monarch, an achievement noted by Guinness World Records.

Her image is still depicted on money in places where she remains a beloved figure, such as Canada, and continues to include the Union Jack in their flags, such as Australia and New Zealand.

It is also found on banknotes and coins issued by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the monetary authority for a group of small nations including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Other places have long since stopped putting her face on their currency. After Jamaica gained independence from Britain in 1962, its central bank replaced the Queen on paper notes with portraits of national heroes such as Marcus Garvey.

Seychelles notes now feature local wildlife instead of the Queen. Bermuda has made a similar revamp, although the Queen retains a secondary position on the accounts. Trinidad and Tobago exchanged its coat of arms after becoming a republic.

Hong Kong dollars, issued after Britain returned the colony to Beijing in 1997, depict Chinese dragons and skyscrapers over the skyline of the Asian financial center.

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