Today sees the unveiling of the Queen’s fifth coin portrait – the first to be designed by a Royal Mint engraver in over 100 years
The ties between the monarch and the UK monetary system
The tradition of monarchs appearing on coinage goes back centuries in Britain. After the decline of Roman rule, strong kings emerged with power over more than one region, and they began to centralise currency. By the end of the tenth century the English monarchy had the most sophisticated coinage system in western Europe.
Henry VII‘s was the first likeness of a current monarch to appear on a coin, though generic kings and queens had appeared before this, and his reign saw the introduction of the gold sovereign in 1489. Right up until the 19th century the Royal Mint was based at the Tower of London, and for centuries was therefore under the direct control of the monarch.
A new coin
Today, the Royal Mint has unveiled a new coinage portrait of Her Majesty the Queen.
Traditionally, the Queen always faces to the right and is in profile, and this special fifth portrait of her facing left is timely as from September she will surpass Queen Victoria as the longest reigning monarch in British history.
Adam Lawrence, Chief Executive of The Royal Mint, said: “This change of royal portrait will make 2015 a vintage year for UK coins, and it will be hugely exciting for us all to see the new design appear on the coins we use every day”
This is only the fifth definitive portrait of The Queen to appear on our circulating coins since her accession to the throne in 1952, making it a very rare event. When it appears in our change later this year, it will become the fourth portrait currently in circulation, joining those created in 1968, 1985 and 1998.
It has also been revealed today that the new portrait is designed by Jody Clark, the first Royal Mint engraver to be chosen to create a definitive royal coinage portrait in over 100 years.
Jody’s elegant portrayal of The Queen, wearing the Royal Diamond Diadem crown worn for her Coronation, was selected in a closed competition organised by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee (RMAC), a consultative panel to Her Majesty’s Treasury comprising experts from such fields as history, sculpture, architecture, art and design.
Coins featuring the new effigy go into production as of today, and the public are being urged to keep a watchful eye on their coins later this year when it will start to appear in pockets, purses and piggy banks across the land.