By Anna Cooban, CNN Business
Billions of banknotes and coins around the world bearing the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II will be replaced after his death.
For nearly 70 years, the Queen’s image appeared on UK coins, with different portraits of her profile as she aged. She appeared on the country’s banknotes for more than 60 years, the first British monarch to do so. His portrait also appears on the currency of several countries formerly under British rule.
Since 1953, a year after the Queen’s accession to the throne, British coins have carried five different versions of her portrait. She appeared on the country’s banknotes from 1960.
But now the Bank of England, which prints the country’s banknotes, and the Royal Mint, which manufactures its coins, face the daunting task of withdrawing this circulation currency and replace it with silver bearing the portrait of King Charles III.
There are more than 4.7 million banknotes in circulation in the UK, with a collective value of £82 billion ($95 billion), according to the central bank. There are also around 29 billion coins in circulation, the Royal Mint said.
The new currency is likely to be phased in and co-exist as legal tender with the old notes and coins for some time.
A similar introduction happened in 2017, when the Royal Mint began issuing a new 12-sided £1 coin. The new coin circulated alongside the older round-shaped £1 coin for six months before the latter lost its legal tender status.
But it’s not just the money that will need a makeover. The UK is facing a mammoth operation to change the royal regalia on thousands of newly issued postboxes and passports.
No changes yet
The Royal Mint said in a statement on its website that the Queen’s coins “remain in circulation and legal tender” and production will continue as usual during “this period of respectful mourning”. .
The Bank of England said the “iconic portraits of the Queen [were] synonym” with some of his most important works.
“Current banknotes bearing the likeness of Her Majesty The Queen will continue to be legal tender,” he said in a statement on Thursday. (At one point on Friday, so many people were trying to access the Royal Mint’s website that there was a virtual queue to get in.)
The central bank said it would outline its plans to replace existing notes once the mourning period is over. The Royal Mint also said it would make an announcement in due course.
The Queen’s image also features on some banknotes and coins across the Commonwealth – an association of 54 countries, almost all of which were once colonized by the UK.
In Canada, where the Queen remains the head of state, her image appears on plastic $20 bills.
“The current $20 polymer bank note is intended to circulate for years. There is no legislative requirement to change the design within a prescribed time when the monarch changes,” Amélie Ferron-Craig, spokesperson for the Bank of Canada, said in a statement to CNN Business.
Canada’s finance minister is responsible for approving the design of new banknotes, Ferron-Craig added, and issuing those notes usually takes a few years.
Also in Australia, the Queen’s portrait appears on the $5 note. The Reserve Bank of Australia said on Friday there would be no “immediate change” to its notes.
He added that his $5 bills would “not be retired” and would likely remain in circulation for years.
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