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King Charles III coin: Why he faces in the opposite direction - and what the new inscription means

The official coin effigy of King Charles III on a 50 pence and �5 Crown commemorating the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth II, during an announcement regarding the designs for the new coins and notes depicting King Charles III at the Worshipful Company Of Cutlers, at Cutlers' Hall, London. Picture date: Thursday September 29, 2022.
What the new coins will look like. (PA)

The official coin effigy of King Charles III has been unveiled by the Royal Mint.

There will be many major changes to the Royal Family following the death of the Queen.

But her passing will also prompt a multitude of differences in terms of the everyday lives of millions of Britons.

One of these changes is that Charles will now feature on the money we use - and there are three significant changes to the coins that will be in our pockets.

First is the direction the new monarch is facing. Whereas the Queen’s image faces to the right on each one of the 29 billion coins in circulation, coins featuring the new King will show him facing to the left.

New coins featuring King Charles will see him facing in the opposite direction to the Queen. (PA/Getty Images)
New coins featuring King Charles will see him facing in the opposite direction to the Queen. (PA/Getty Images)

This is due to a tradition, dating back to the 17th century, to alternate the way successive monarchs are facing.

As the Royal Family says on its website: “From the time of Charles II onwards, a tradition developed of monarchs being represented on the coinage facing in the opposite direction to their immediate predecessor.

“The exception to this was in the brief reign of Edward VIII. He liked portraits of himself facing to the left, even though, according to tradition, he should have faced to the right. Designs for proposed coins for his reign show Edward VIII facing to the left.

Watch: Senior MPs attend rare Saturday Commons sitting to pledge allegiance to Charles

“The tradition was restored in the reign of George VI, with his portrait facing left as if Edward VIII's had faced right.”

The King’s portrait will first appear on a special £5 Crown and 50p commemorating the Queen.

Another change from Queen Elizabeth coins is that Charles is not wearing a crown - which is the same as previous British monarchs, and unlike the Queen, he wears no crown.

1937:  A close-up of a set of the new English coins minted for the reign of King George VI, including a crown, a half crown, a two shilling piece, a shilling, a sixpence, a three pence or thrupenny bit, a penny, a half penny or ha'penny and a farthing.  (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
The English coins minted for the reign of King George VI, including a crown, a half crown, a two shilling piece, a shilling, a sixpence, a three pence or thrupenny bit, a penny, a half penny or ha'penny and a farthing. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

The Latin inscription surrounding the effigy has also changed.

With the Queen, it said: "Elizabeth II·Dei·Gra·Reg·Fid·Def", whereas under Charles, the inscription is more truncated and reads: “• CHARLES III • D • G • REX • F • D • 5 POUNDS • 2022”.

Both roughly translate as: "By the Grace of God, Defender of the Faith”.

The effigy will start to appear on circulating and commemorative coins produced by The Royal Mint over the coming months.

The reverse of the commemorative £5 coin features two new portraits of Queen Elizabeth II.

The design was created by artist John Bergdahl in collaboration with the Royal Mint.

It will form part of a wider memorial coin collection.

Nicola Howell, chief commercial officer at the Royal Mint said: “We expect customers will start to be able to receive the commemorative range from October and then we expect the 50p memorial circulating coin to be appearing in people’s change probably from December.”

The Queen’s coins did not appear until 1953, the year after her accession. Her coins are expected to stay in use until they are gradually replaced.

Shop commemorative Queen Elizabeth II coins

1957 Queen Elizabeth II Sovereign | £845 from The Royal Mint

50p Platinum Jubilee Uncirculated Coin | £7 from The Royal Mint


£5 Platinum Jubilee Uncirculated Coin
| £10 from The Royal Mint

Her Majesty The Queen’s Jubilee Half-Sovereign Set | £1,150 from The Royal Mint