Queen Elizabeth II has been depicted on British banknotes and coins for decades. Her portrait has also been featured on currency in dozens of other places around the world as a reminder of the British Empire’s colonial reach.
So what happens next after her death this week? It will take time for the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries to exchange the monarchs on their money.
But that doesn’t mean the accounts don’t work – they do.
Here’s a look at what’s next for money with the late queen:
The Queen’s portrait on British notes and coins is expected to be replaced by a likeness of King Charles III, but it will not be immediate.
“Current banknotes bearing the image of Her Majesty The Queen will continue to be legal tender,” the Bank of England said.
An announcement about existing paper money issued by the UK’s central bank will be made after the official 10-day mourning period ends, it said.
With 4.7 billion British banknotes worth 82 billion pounds ($95 billion) in circulation and about 29 billion coins, British money bearing the Queen’s image is likely to be in circulation for years.
“Rather than all the current coins and notes being handed in, the process will be a gradual one and many of the coins with portraits of Queen Elizabeth II will remain in circulation for many years to come,” according to Coin Expert, a British mint research website.
After Charles takes the crown at his coronation, a new portrait will need to be taken to be used on redesigned notes and coins, the website said.
Coins featuring him will show him looking to the left, replacing the queen’s rightward gaze in keeping with a tradition dating back to the 17th century. It stipulates that monarchs are shown in profile and in the opposite direction to their predecessors.
What about other countries?
Other countries’ currencies featuring the Queen – from Australian, Canadian and Belizean dollars – will also be updated with the new monarch, but the process may take longer because “it is much easier to enforce a new design in the country where it originates, rather than in other countries where different jurisdictions may take place”, said Coin Expert.
The Bank of Canada said its current $20 note, made of synthetic polymer, is designed to “circulate for years to come”.
“There is no legislative requirement to change the design within a prescribed period when the monarch changes,” the Bank of Canada said.
Generally, when a new portrait subject is chosen for Canadian money, the process begins with the creation of a fresh design, and a new note is ready to be issued “a few years later,” the bank said. .
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand said it would issue all of its stock of coins depicting the Queen before new ones with Charles’ image are issued. The Queen also appears on the $20 note, which is “rarely” made and there is no “plan to destroy stock or shorten the life of existing banknotes just because they show the Queen”, the bank said.
“It will be several years before we have to introduce coins featuring King Charles the Third, and longer until supplies of $20 notes are exhausted,” it added.
The queen’s currency
She first appeared on money when she was still a princess. That was in 1935, when Canada’s $20 bill featured eight-year-old Princess Elizabeth, whose grandfather King George V was then the monarch, as part of a new series of notes.
Canadian 20-dollar bills were updated with a new portrait of the Queen in 1954, a year after her coronation, and her portrait also began to appear on other currencies around the world, mainly in British colonies and Commonwealth countries.
British bills did not get her image until 1960 – seven years after her coronation. It was then that the Bank of England was given permission to use her likeness on paper money, starting with the £1 note, although the formal and regal image was criticized for being too serious and unrealistic.
She became the first monarch to be depicted on British banknotes. British coins, meanwhile, have featured kings and queens for over 1,000 years.
Currencies outside the United Kingdom
At one time, Queen Elizabeth II appeared on at least 33 different currencies, more than any other monarch, a feat noted by Guinness World Records.
Her image is still featured on money in places where she remains a beloved figure, such as Canada, and still incorporate the Union Jack in their flags, such as Australia and New Zealand.
She is also found on notes and coins issued by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the monetary authority for a group of small nations, including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Other places have long stopped putting her face on their currency. After Jamaica gained independence from Britain in 1962, its central bank replaced the Queen on paper notes with portraits of national heroes such as Marcus Garvey.
Notes in Seychelles now feature local wildlife instead of the queen. Bermuda has done a similar overhaul, although the Queen maintains a minor position on accounts. Trinidad and Tobago exchanged a coat of arms after becoming a republic.
Hong Kong dollars issued after Britain returned the colony to Beijing in 1997 feature Chinese dragons and skyscrapers on the Asian financial center’s skyline.