Queen Elizabeth II has been depicted on British banknotes and coins for decades. Her portrait can also be seen on currencies in dozens of other places around the world, commemorating the colonial reach of the British Empire.
So what happens after her death this week? It will be some time before the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries can trade the monarchs for their money.
But that doesn’t mean the bills don’t work — they do.
Here’s a look at what’s next for the paper money with the late queen:
The portrait of the Queen on British banknotes and coins is expected to be replaced with an image of the new King Charles III, but it won’t be immediately.
“The current banknotes depicting Her Majesty the Queen remain legal tender,” the Bank of England said. An announcement about existing paper money issued by the UK’s central bank will be made after the official 10-day mourning period ends, it said.
The Royal Mint, the official maker of British coins, said all coins bearing her portrait will remain “legal tender and in circulation”, with more information to follow later.
“While we respect this period of respectful mourning, we will continue to mint coins as usual,” the Royal Mint said on its website.
With 4.7 billion British banknotes worth 82 billion pounds ($95 billion) in circulation and about 29 billion coins, British money bearing the image of the Queen 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 UK coin research website.
After Charles takes the crown at his coronation, a new portrait is to be created for use on redesigned notes and coins, the website said.
Coins bearing him show him looking to the left, replacing the Queen’s right-facing gaze, in keeping with tradition dating back to the 17th century. It dictates that monarchs are shown in profile and in opposite directions from their predecessors.
HOW WITH OTHER COUNTRIES?
The currencies of other queens – Australian, Canadian and Belizean dollars – will also be updated with the new monarch, but the process may take longer as “it is much easier to enforce a new design in the country where it comes from, rather than in other countries where different jurisdictions may take place,” the Coin Expert website said.
The Bank of Canada said the current $20 banknote, made of synthetic polymer, is designed to “circulate for years to come.”
“There is no legal requirement to change the design within a prescribed period of time when the Monarch changes,” the Bank of Canada said.
Generally, when a new portrait is chosen for Canadian money, the process begins with a new design being drawn up and a new note ready to be issued “a few years later,” the bank said.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand said it will issue all of its stock of coins with the Queen before issuing new ones with the image of Charles. The queen is also on the $20 note, which is “rarely” made and there is no “plan to destroy the stock or shorten the life of existing notes just because they show the queen,” the bank said.
“It will be several years before we have to introduce coins with King Charles the Third, and longer until stocks of $20 notes are exhausted,” it added.
THE QUEEN’S CURRENCY
She first appeared on money when she was still a princess. That was in 1935, when the Canadian $20 bill featured 8-year-old Princess Elizabeth, whose grandfather King George V was then the monarch, as part of a new series of notes.
Canadian $20 bills were updated with a new portrait of the Queen in 1954, a year after her coronation, and her portrait also began to appear in other currencies around the world, primarily British colonies and Commonwealth countries.
British accounts didn’t get her image until 1960, seven years after her coronation. Then the Bank of England was allowed to use its image on paper money, starting with the £1 note, although its formal and royal image was criticized for being too stern and unrealistic.
She became the first monarch depicted on British banknotes. British coins, meanwhile, have had kings and queens for over 1000 years.
CURRENCIES OUTSIDE THE UK
At one time, Queen Elizabeth II appeared in at least 33 different currencies, more than any other monarch, a feat noted by Guinness World Records.
Her likeness is still featured in places where she remains a much-loved figure, such as Canada, and they continue to include the Union Jack in their flags, such as Australia and New Zealand.
It is also found on notes and coins issued by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the monetary authority for a group of small countries, 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 its face on their currency. After Jamaica gained independence from Britain in 1962, the central bank replaced the Queen on paper notes with portraits of national heroes such as Marcus Garvey.
Notes in Seychelles now feature local wildlife instead of the Queen. Bermuda did a similar revamp, though the queen retains a subordinate position in bills. Trinidad and Tobago switched a weapon after it became a republic.
Hong Kong dollars spent after Britain returned its colony to Beijing in 1997 feature Chinese dragons and skyscrapers on the skyline of the Asian financial center.
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