All sterling coins in circulation and most sterling banknotes have a picture of the late Queen Elizabeth II. Will they be replaced by ones with pictures of King Charles III?


2 Answers 2


Yes, but not quickly

New designs of coins and notes from now on will have Charles' picture, but existing designs of coins will continue to circulate until they are withdrawn as worn out.

Notes will be replaced faster than coins. The UK issues new note designs fairly often and withdraws the old ones, as an anti-counterfeiting measure: the very slowly-changing designs of US money are surprising to the British.

The oldest note design circulating in 2022 was first issued in 2007; all the older designs have been withdrawn, although any ones that people still have can be exchanged for current issues at face value. Elizabeth II notes will probably all be replaced within a couple of decades. If we were still using paper notes, the process would be faster, but polymer notes were introduced because they last longer.

Coins last considerably longer: the oldest ones in circulation are from 1971. That's important, because the coinage was redesigned when the UK switched that year from 20 shillings (240 old pennies) to the pound, to the decimal standard of 100 new pence to the pound.

The first designs of Charles III notes have now been unveiled. They're much the same as Elizabeth II ones, apart from the portraits. The BBC reports:

The Bank of England said that, following guidance from the Royal household, the new notes would only be printed to replace worn notes or to meet increased demand, in order to minimise the environmental and financial impact of the change.

Charles III fifty pence pieces are already circulating. There's a picture of one at the link.

Money from past monarchs is normal

All of the money in circulation as of the death of Elizabeth II had her portrait, because she reigned for 70 years and because of the decimalisation redesign. When I was a child learning to recognise and count money at the end of the 1960s, George VI coins were absolutely routine, and George V ones weren't rare, although they were often very worn. At the time, George VI had only been dead for about 17 years, and George V for 34. But that was 53 years ago (as of 2022). There wasn't much Edward VIII coinage issued, and I've never seen any. The combination of the long reign just completed and decimalisation has created a historically unusual situation.

Given Charles' age, it is perfectly possible that there will still be some Elizabeth II money in circulation when William succeeds him.

  • 6
    @phoog It's plausible this answer isn't in disagreement with your other sources, but is using a different definition of "replace". Unlike some other countries, the UK limits the series of banknote which can be free negotiated, so all notes eventually come out of circulation as new ones are issued. Old notes can still be exchanged at their printed value, but only via limited routes (in some cases, literally at the bank of England).
    – origimbo
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 19:50
  • 9
    I kept some of my first pocket money from 1969-70 rather than changing it at decimalisation, and there were still some very late and badly worn Victoria examples in it. Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 8:59
  • 5
    @phoog What are your sources for the articles which disagree with the answer? Certainly in the 70's, I was seeing pre EII coinage
    – Bib
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 9:40
  • 7
    @phuzi Yes, UK paper notes cease to be valid this month because of their replacement with the more robust polymer notes. UK currency withdrawals happen because of wear or replacements due to improved counterfeiting measures but not because the need for pictures of a different monarch. No previous notes or coins were replaced because the monarch pictures went out of date.
    – matt_black
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 14:08
  • 5
    Note that they don't just do this when there's a new monarch. Even during her reign, the image of Elizabeth II on the coinage was updated every decade or so. You can see she looks much younger on coins minted in the 60's vs. those minted more recently. This is not just in the UK, of course. You can see the same on e.g. Canadian money, and everywhere else that still keeps the British monarch on their currency. Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 14:52

Yes, there will be a process to change the currency but it will not be a quick one. I found an article on CNN.com which talks about the process and it seems that they will be releasing new currency with King Charles III but the existing currency with Queen Elizabeth II will still remain legal currency for the time beaing.

I have quoted various paragraphs from the article that give history on recent changes and what we have heard about the upcoming changes.

There are more than 4.7 million banknotes in the UK with the queen’s face on them. They will all be replaced

But now, the Bank of England, which prints the country’s banknotes, and the Royal Mint, which makes its coins, face the sizeable task of withdrawing that currency from circulation and replacing it with money bearing the portrait of King Charles III.

There are more than 4.7 million banknotes in circulation in the UK, worth a collective £82 billion ($95 billion), according to the central bank. There are also around 29 billion coins circulating, the Royal Mint said.

The new money is likely to introduced gradually, and coexist as legal tender with the old notes and coins for a period of time.

A similar phase-in happened in 2017, when the Royal Mint began issuing a new 12-sided £1 coin. The new coin circulated at the same time as the old round-shaped £1 for six months before the latter lost its status as legal tender.

No changes yet

The Royal Mint said in a statement on its website that coins bearing the image of the Queen “remain legal tender and in circulation,” and that their production would continue as usual during “this period of respectful mourning.”

“Current banknotes featuring the image of Her Majesty The Queen will continue to be legal tender,” it said in a Thursday statement. (At one point Friday, so many people were attempting to access the Royal Mint’s website that there was a virtual queue to get in.)

  • 5
    The estimate of the number of banknotes in circulation in the quoted artcle is wrong by a factor of 1,000. The number is 4.7 billion not million (total value ~£80bn). And the article is wrong on many other points: there is no plan to replace current notes or mailboxes except because they wear out. We still have, for example, Victorian Mail boxes and, in periods where coins were not being redesigned, lived with multiple royal portraits on them for long periods.
    – matt_black
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 14:02
  • 4
    @JoeW Personal experience from the 60's was that Victorian pennies were not that rare. As to Victorian mailboxes, one just needs to look around in the centre of a large town. Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 15:47
  • 2
    @JoeW I was trying to add evidence for as many claims in matt_black's comment as I had evidence for. It wasn't clear which of the several claims you were asking for evidence for. Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 15:55
  • 2
    @JoeW This is not Wikipedia. Personal experience is allowed. (A link to an official website may carry more weight of course.) Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 15:59
  • 1
    Anyone who has lived in the UK during the pre-decimal era up to Spring 1971 and was of an age to notice details of coins will testify that coins from Victoria all the way to Elizabeth were a daily reality. Not so many Edward VII, LOTS of George V, never in my own experience Edward VIII (the Nazi) plenty of George VI. Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 22:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .