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King Charles III: New banknotes and coins for 2023

Loose change including the new Fifty pence piece featuring King Charles III portrait
The new fifty pence piece featuring King Charles III. Photo: PA/Alamy

From coins to banknotes, the inside of your wallet might start to look different in 2023 as King Charles III's portrait starts to appear on our money.

Fifty pence coins featuring the image of King Charles are already entering circulation, with 4.9 million coins being distributed across 9,452 Post Office branches nationwide.

Banknotes featuring the King have been revealed by the Bank of England, with plans for them to enter circulation in mid-2024.

The Post Office’s Aldwych branch in central London, near to Clarence House, was among the locations to receive the new coins. Coins will be distributed as change when customers make purchases.

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Rebecca Morgan, director of collector services at the Royal Mint, said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for coin collectors to add to their collections, or start one for the first time.

“We anticipate a new generation of coin collectors emerging, with people keeping a close eye on their change to try and spot a new 50p that bears the portrait of our new King."

Some 9.6 million 50p coins will eventually enter circulation, in line with demand. The King’s effigy has been created by sculptor Martin Jennings and personally approved by Charles.

Newly manufactured 50p coins featuring the portrait of Britain's King Charles III are pictured at The Royal Mint in Pontyclun, Wales, Britain, October 27, 2022. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Fifty pence coins featuring the image of King Charles are already entering circulation, with 4.9 million coins being distributed across 9,452 Post Office branches nationwide. Photo: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Nick Read, chief executive of the Post Office, commented: “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.”

The King’s portrait faces to the left ⁠— in the opposite direction to the late Queen Elizabeth.

It is a tradition from the 17th century to alternate the way successive monarchs are facing.

The King’s portrait shows on one side of a 50p, with the reverse, or “tails” side of the coin, commemorating the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth II.

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The design was struck to commemorate the Queen’s coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1953 and includes the four quarters of the Royal Arms depicted within a shield.

Between each shield is an emblem of the home nations ⁠— a rose, a thistle, a shamrock and a leek.

Around 29 billion coins in circulation in the UK have the Queen's head on them.

The Queen's death also means that banknotes currently in circulation will be replaced with new ones to mark the new reign of King Charles. The Bank of England says the King’s portrait will be the only change on existing designs of its £5, £10, £20 and £50 polymer plastic notes.

The notes will gradually replace those featuring his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and enter circulation from the middle of 2024.
The notes will gradually replace those featuring his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and enter circulation from the middle of 2024. Photo: Bank of England

This means that no changes will be made to the figures featured on the obverse of the notes, which are currently Winston Churchill, Jane Austen, JMW Turner and Alan Turing in ascending order of value.

Bank of England’s King Charles III bank note designs. Photo: Bank of England
Bank of England’s King Charles III bank note designs. Photo: Bank of England

The design of notes will also continue to follow the existing colour scheme and patterns introduced with the switch to polymer in 2017.

"I am very proud that the bank is releasing the design of our new banknotes, which will carry a portrait of King Charles III," Bank of England governor, Andrew Bailey, said.

All existing notes featuring the late Queen will continue to be legal tender. Photo: Bank of England
All existing notes featuring the late Queen will continue to be legal tender. Photo: Bank of England

"This is a significant moment, as the King is only the second monarch to feature on our banknotes. People will be able to use these new notes as they start to enter circulation in 2024."

The notes will enter circulation from the middle of 2024. Photo: Bank of England
The notes will enter circulation from the middle of 2024. Photo: Bank of England

Existing notes will still be accepted in shops after the new notes begin to circulate.

The Bank of England added that following guidance from the royal household to keep the environmental and financial impact of the change to a minimum, it would only print new banknotes to replace those that are worn and when needed to increase notes in circulation.

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Queen Elizabeth was the first and only monarch to appear on circulating Bank of England banknotes, starting in 1960. Notes issued by Scottish and Northern Irish banks do not depict the monarch.

King Charles will become only the second monarch in British history to feature on a bank note.

Banks and post offices will issue the newly designed coins and notes and collect the older versions. All notes and coins will remain legal tender.

Watch: The Royal Mint unveils King Charles coins to enter circulation in December