Over a year ago, the news broke that Queen Elizabeth II had passed away and King Charles III had assumed the throne. This has been the first new British monarch in 70 years, which means we’re seeing a bunch of changes happen for the first in many of our lifetimes. One immediate thought comes to mind – when are Australian coins going to change?
When will Australia get new coins?
It’s standard in many Commonwealth countries to have the reigning monarch’s face imprinted on the back of coins and on bills, including in the UK, Canada and New Zealand. Here in Australia, Queen Liz is featured on the backs of all our coins and on the $5 note.
Now that we have a King, the coins and notes will need to be replaced with portraits of Charles.
It’s not a task that will happen overnight. Coins with Queen Elizabeth’s face on them are expected to be in circulation for at least another couple of years as they are gradually taken in and replaced with new ones.
According to the Royal Australian Mint, coins bearing the new sovereign’s effigy are usually released 12 months after the coronation. King Charles’ coronation occurred in May 2023, so we’re getting closer to seeing new coins move into circulation.
An update on this front is that we can actually expect to see coins featuring King Charles’ effigy quite soon. Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh told ABC Radio (via 9News) that the new coins would begin circulating “before the end of the year.”
What do the new coins look like?
The new Australian coins in circulation will read Charles III, followed by ‘Australia’ and the year in which they are produced.
They will also feature a side portrait of the King’s face, although, as is tradition, Charles’ portrait will have him facing to the left.
According to the Royal Family’s official website, from the time of King Charles II onwards, it became a tradition for monarchs depicted on coinage to be shown facing in the opposite direction of their immediate predecessor. As Elizabeth II is facing to the right on current coins, Charles III should therefore face to the left.
The Royal Mint in the UK released the first design of Charles’ effigy, which you can check out below.
While this is how the effigy will look on coins in the UK, it’s not too hard to envision how the portrait will look on our current Aussie coin designs.
Elizabeth II has been depicted on our coins as far back as when we had 1c and 2c coins (which were withdrawn in 1992), so this is a pretty major change for our currency.
However, you don’t have to worry about your old coins or notes becoming worthless now that a new monarch is incoming. According to the Royal Australian Mint’s website:
“Existing coins will continue to remain in circulation until they are recycled due to wear and tear. Coins with the effigy of the new Sovereign will gradually replace the old coins. There will not be a recall of coins currently in circulation and they will remain legal tender.”
Of course, the use of physical money, cash and coins is rarer these days, but if you do want to hold onto your Queen Elizabeth II coins for commemorative sakes, you still have a bit of time to do it.
In the UK, changes to stamps, royal mailboxes, passports and the national anthem are also occurring to reflect the incoming new monarch.
If you’re curious about what else has happened in the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s passing, we’ve got a breakdown of that here.
This article has been updated with additional information.
Lead Image Credit: iStock