King Charles III: First banknotes featuring new UK monarch unveiled by Bank of England

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By Euronews  with AFP, Reuters
A BoE handout photograph released on December 19, 2022 shows the design of the new £5 polymer banknotes featuring a portrait of Britain's King Charles III.
A BoE handout photograph released on December 19, 2022 shows the design of the new £5 polymer banknotes featuring a portrait of Britain's King Charles III.   -   Copyright  Bank of England/ AFP

The first banknotes bearing the image of King Charles III have been unveiled by the Bank of England.

They will come into circulation from the middle of 2024 and will gradually replace those featuring his mother Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September after 70 years on the throne.

The new banknotes feature a portrait of Charles on the front, as well as a smaller image of the monarch in the notes' see-through security window, but are otherwise unchanged from their current designs.

"The portrait of The King will appear on existing designs of all four polymer banknotes (£5, £10, £20 and £50), with no other changes to the existing designs," the Bank of England said in a statement.

 "This is a significant moment, as The King is only the second monarch to feature on our banknotes," BoE Governor Andrew Bailey said. 

Queen Elizabeth II first appeared on BoE banknotes in 1960, in contrast to British coins which have long featured images of the country's rulers.

The portrait is an engraving made from a photo "provided by the Royal Family in 2013" and the designs, finalised in recent months, have been approved by the monarch, a Bank of England spokesman told AFP.

New notes will only be printed when old ones featuring Queen Elizabeth are worn out, "to minimise the environmental and financial impact of this change" according to the Bank. So the two types of note will both be in circulation for some years.

The polymer notes -- which have been gradually replacing paper money in the UK since 2016 -- will be produced on a large scale from the first half of 2023 before entering circulation the following year.

Britain's Royal Mint began issuing the first coins featuring Charles's profile into general circulation on December 8.

Some 27 billion coins are currently in circulation in the UK bearing the face of the late Elizabeth II: they too will remain valid and will only be replaced when damaged or worn.