Why will King Charles III face in opposite direction to the Queen on UK money and stamps?

The official coin effigy of King Charles III on a 50 pence and £5 Crown commemorating the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth IIThe official coin effigy of King Charles III on a 50 pence and £5 Crown commemorating the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth II
The official coin effigy of King Charles III on a 50 pence and £5 Crown commemorating the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth II | PA
Britain will see major changes to money, stamps and more in the coming years

The reign of King Charles III has begun after he was officially proclaimed the new monarch. He replaces his mother, QueenElizabeth II, as the British head of state following her death.

The Queen died at the age of 96 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on Thursday 8 September - of old age, as her death certificate has confirmed.

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The end of Elizabeth II’s reign and the start of King Charles III’s time on the throne will see some monumental changes to British society - from bank notes and coins to stamps and postboxes.

Stamps will eventually change, with King Charles III replacing the Queen (Images: Getty / Adobe)Stamps will eventually change, with King Charles III replacing the Queen (Images: Getty / Adobe)
Stamps will eventually change, with King Charles III replacing the Queen (Images: Getty / Adobe) | Getty / Adobe

Why will King Charles III’s portrait face the opposite direction?

Queen Elizabeth II’s face has been on the bank notes, coins and stamps in the UK for the best part of 70 years. We have all become used to the way our currency looks when you crack open your wallet or purse, with the Queen’s profile facing to the right on coins, notes and stamps.

However, in the coming years, as King Charles III’s portrait is introduced, things will look quite different. Especially because the King wil be facing the opposite direction. His profile will be looking to the left, unlike Elizabeth II’s which faces to the right.

The reason for this is because of a tradition dating back to the 17th century, which states that the direction of portraits of monarchs must alternate.

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It means that when William, the new Prince of Wales, ascends the throne, his portrait will face to the right like his grandmother’s did.

This was confirmed today (30 September) with the unveiling of the new coin effigy of Charles III by the Royal Mint.

The Royal Mint says King Charles’ image will first appear on 50p coins and in keeping with tradition, his portrait faces to the left - the opposite direction to the Queen. The reverse of the 50p features a design that originally appeared on the 1953 Coronation Crown.

The Latin inscription surrounding the effigy reads: “• CHARLES III • D • G • REX • F • D • 5 POUNDS • 2022” which translates to: “King Charles III, by the Grace of God, Defender of the Faith”.

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The official coin effigy of King Charles III on a 50 pence (Photo: PA)The official coin effigy of King Charles III on a 50 pence (Photo: PA)
The official coin effigy of King Charles III on a 50 pence (Photo: PA) | PA

What else will change?

It is not just money and stamps which will see changes over the coming years.

National Anthem

England ahead of their first Euros clash against Austria England ahead of their first Euros clash against Austria
England ahead of their first Euros clash against Austria | Getty Images

The words to the National Anthem have changed to “God save our gracious King” with substitutions of “him” and “he”. This is a matter of tradition, not law.

Passports and His Majesty

British PassportBritish Passport
British Passport

The former Prince of Wales no longer needs his own passport, but for the rest of the UK passports will be issued in his name. The wording in new passports will be changed at some point.

Her Majesty’s Passport Office will become His Majesty’s Passport Office, as is the case with HM Armed Forces and HM Prison Service.

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Face-to-face, Charles will be Your Majesty rather than Your Royal Highness on first meeting, and Sir on second reference, instead of Ma’am – to rhyme with “lamb” – which was used on second reference to Elizabeth II.

Cyphers

PA/Buckingham Palace

The new monarch has a new Royal Cypher – the monogram impressed upon royal and state documents. This will features on traditional police helmets and postboxes.

The monogram includes the King’s initial C intertwined with the letter R for Rex, which is Latin for King. This system of denoting the King is used by various Commonwealth realms, with R also standing for Regina, meaning Queen. The Roman numbers, III, also feature within the R to denote Charles III, and the crown sits above the letters.

Postboxes

A man posts a letter in a Royal Mail postbox on June 30, 2022 in London, England (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)A man posts a letter in a Royal Mail postbox on June 30, 2022 in London, England (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
A man posts a letter in a Royal Mail postbox on June 30, 2022 in London, England (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Any new postboxes could feature the new King’s cypher.

Medals

Military medals, such as operational ones and long service commendations featuring the Queen’s effigy will need to be altered.

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Coat of arms

svetko - stock.adobe.com

The royal coat of arms, adopted at the start of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837, will remain the same.

But just as when the Queen became monarch, it is likely that new artwork will be issued early in Charles’s reign by the College of Arms for use by public service bodies such as the civil service and the armed forces.

QCs to KCs

Ministry of Justice figures already show the barrister strike action has led to disruption in the courts (image: PA)Ministry of Justice figures already show the barrister strike action has led to disruption in the courts (image: PA)
Ministry of Justice figures already show the barrister strike action has led to disruption in the courts (image: PA) | PA

In the UK, Queen’s Counsel (QC) refers to a set of barristers and solicitors who the monarch appoints to be a part of Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law. The title switches to King’s Counsel (KC) now a king reigns.

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