LONDON — In recent months, as Britain has recovered from mourning the loss of its Queen, the dawn of a new reign has loomed in the country’s daily life.
England’s World Cup team sang “God Save the King”. For the first time in decades, a king welcomed a new prime minister. Now, as Britons prepare for the first Christmas without Queen Elizabeth II’s traditional message, the Bank of England has announced another big change.
On Tuesday local time, she introduced new pound notes with the portrait of King Charles III. which are expected to be put into circulation in mid-2024.
The new £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes are only being printed to replace worn-out currency or to meet a surge in demand, so banknotes feature the images of the late Queen and the current one King will be in circulation same time.
The announcement marked another new page in British history as King Charles took his mother’s place on the throne and in the rituals and symbols that testify to the royal family’s presence in everyday life.
“This is a significant moment,” the bank’s governor, Andrew Bailey, said in a statement, adding that King Charles was only the second monarch to feature on the pound notes.
Pound notes were first issued in the late 17th century, but the British sovereign has only featured on them since 1960, with Queen Elizabeth II as the first female monarch to appear. The first notes showed a portrait of the Queen wearing the family’s diamond tiara.
“It was a formal, royal image and was criticized as a severe and unrealistic likeness,” according to the Bank of England.
A second portrait by a different designer did better because people thought the portrait was more realistic and she looked more “relaxed,” according to the bank. Other portraits were introduced later, but the most familiar to most Brits is that of a more mature queen, drawn in 1990. The same portrait also appeared after 2016 when the bills started being printed on plastic instead of paper.
Since the 17th century, monarchs have been depicted on coins facing the opposite direction of their immediate predecessor, with King Charles facing left while his mother is facing right.
The notes do not appear to be of the same tradition, as the sovereigns are presented from the front.
In recent years Britain has paid tribute to some of its prestigious national figures by adopting a currency featuring former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, novelist Jane Austen, painter JMW Turner and mathematician Alan Turing.
The Royal Mint, the official mint of British coins, also announced the creation of 5 pound and 50 pence coins featuring the King’s effigy, created by sculptor Martin Jennings. They will not replace Queen Elizabeth’s coins to “minimize the environmental and financial impact of the change of monarch,” the Royal Mint said.