King Charles III will appear for the first time on coins as part of a memorial collection that will include a 50p released into general circulation in the UK before Christmas.

The Royal Mint on Friday unveiled the official coin effigy of King Charles designed by sculptor Martin Jennings, who created a portrait bust of the Queen Mother that stands in St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The King’s effigy will first appear on a new range of £5 coins in October, which will feature two new portraits of Queen Elizabeth II on the reverse side to commemorate her life and reign.

The reverse of the 50p coin, which will enter general circulation in the next few months, features a design that originally appeared on the 1953 Coronation Crown.

The design includes the four quarters of the Royal Arms depicted within a shield. In between each shield is an emblem of the four nations: a rose for England, a thistle for Scotland, a shamrock for Northern Ireland and a leek for Wales.

The King has personally approved the portrait, with his image facing left unlike that of his mother, which faced right.

reverse of the new £5 coin
A new range of £5 coins will feature two new portraits of Queen Elizabeth II on the reverse side to commemorate her life and reign. © Aaron Chown/PA

Unlike his mother, King Charles will not wear a crown. The last male monarch whose effigy featured a crown was Charles II in the late 17th century.

Queen Elizabeth appeared on more coins than any other previous British monarch. Kevin Clancy, director of The Royal Mint museum, described the collection as marking “the biggest change to Britain’s coinage in decades, and the first time that many people will have seen a different effigy”. 

Jennings’s portrait was sculpted from photographs of the King over the past year and signed off a few weeks ago, according to Anne Jessopp, chief executive of The Royal Mint.

The Royal Mint has made coins for the Royal Family for more than 1,100 years, with each monarch featured since Alfred the Great.

“When we started way back in history, that was the way that people found out what their monarch looked like,” said Jessopp.

She added that the banknotes, to be printed by the Bank of England, and the stamps, to be produced by the Royal Mail, would feature different designs.

The Royal Mint will not take existing coins out of circulation, which means that currency featuring King Charles and Queen Elizabeth will be used for many years.

Jessopp said coins typically lasted about 20 years and that there were roughly 27bn in circulation. The currency last changed in 1953, the year after Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne.

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