World Coins

King Charles III 50p begins circulating in the UK

The first coin featuring the effigy of King Charles III was launched into circulation Dec. 8, through Post Offices in the United Kingdom. The 50-penny coin’s reverse honors the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Images courtesy of the Royal Mint.

New coins depicting the new monarch were set to begin circulating in the United Kingdom on Dec. 8, the Royal Mint announced.

The first coinage featuring King Charles III was to enter circulation through post offices around the United Kingdom.

The first coins to bear the king’s portrait — marking the historic transition from Queen Elizabeth II to King Charles III in the public’s change — is a 50-penny coin commemorating the life and legacy of the late Queen Elizabeth II on the reverse.

When a commemorative version of the coin was released in October, the Royal Mint’s website experienced a record surge of customers in the 24 hours following.

In total, 4.9 million examples of the new circulating coin were distributed to post office branches, including the Aldwych branch, which is close to Clarence House (the residence of King Charles III).

The coin will be given out as change when customers make an in-store purchase.

In total, 9.6 million 50-penny coins will eventually enter circulation, with the rest entering according to demand.

Nick Read, chief executive officer of the post office, said, in a statement: “It is a tremendous honour for the Post Office and for Postmasters that the first coinage featuring King Charles III is being released into circulation via our extensive branch network. December is our busiest time of the year so the coin will be entering our network in a phased manner. If you don’t receive the new 50p in your change on your first visit to a Post Office you may well get it in your change in a subsequent visit, so keep a look out for it.”

About the design

The king’s effigy, created by renowned British sculptor Martin Jennings, is personally approved by the king.

In keeping with tradition, King Charles III’s obverse portrait faces to the left, the direction opposite to the coinage portraits of Queen Elizabeth II.

The reverse of the 50-penny coin features a design that originally appeared on the 1953 Coronation crown, which was struck to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation at Westminster Abbey. The design includes the four quarters of the royal arms depicted within a shield. In between each shield is an emblem of the home nations; a rose, a thistle, a shamrock and a leek.

All current UK coins bearing the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II will remain legal tender and in active circulation.

Historically it has been commonplace for coins featuring the effigies of different monarchs to co-circulate. This ensures a smooth transition, with minimal environmental impact and cost.

Approximately 27 billion coins currently circulate in the UK bearing the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. These will be replaced over time, as they become damaged or worn, and to meet demand for new coins.

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