What the Passing of Queen Elizabeth II Means for Cash
Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on the currencies of 33 different countries, from Australia to New Zealand, with Canada the first nation to depict her in 1935—when she was a nine-year-old princess—on its $20 notes. Her passing raises the question in nations around the world: what now for our cash?
Time Magazine reports that over the years, no fewer than 26 different portraits of Her Majesty featured on banknotes and coins in the United Kingdom, and its current and former colonies, dominions and territories. Most were commissioned with the express purpose of using them on currency, and while the majority reflected the passing of years, some—such as Belize back in 1980—use older portraits showing her in her youth. Unsurprisingly, she holds the Guinness World Record for ‘most currencies featuring the same individual’.
In the UK, there is an established protocol governing what comes next for cash. Most importantly, the Royal Mint—the official manufacturer of British coinage—says all coins with her portrait will remain legal tender and in circulation until further notice. Going forward, her son Charles will replace her. Notably, coins will depict him facing left—opposite the Queen’s facing—in line with tradition dating back to the 17th century.
The Associated Press reports The Bank of Canada has no plans to rush out a new design, noting its durable and long-lasting banknotes were created ‘to circulate for years to come’. Most likely, new portraits will be filtered in gradually as the nation creates new banknote designs. Similarly, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand has stated it will issue all its stock coins depicting Her Majesty, and there is no ‘plan to destroy stock or shorten the life of existing banknotes just because they show the queen.’
The choices of other nations—whether to replace Queen Elizabeth with her successor, or to remove British royal imagery altogether, as has already happened in countries such as Jamaica and the Seychelles—remain to be made. Reuters reports the Australian government has advised it may replace the design of its $5 bill, which currently bears the Queen's portrait, with images of notable Australian individuals.