The Queen’s portrait features on the likes of banknotes, coins, post boxes, stamps and government signage, and altering these to feature the new King Charles III will be a monumental task. The entire process could even take several years.
Here are some of the things that are set to change following Her Majesty’s death.
Current banknotes featuring a portrait of the Queen will continue to be legal tender, the Bank of England has reassured consumers. A further announcement regarding notes will be made once the period of mourning has been observed following the Queen’s death. The Queen was the first monarch to feature on Bank of England banknotes, Threadneedle Street said. Bank governor Andrew Bailey said: “It was with profound sadness that I learned of the death of Her Majesty The Queen. “On behalf of everyone at the Bank I would like to pass on my deepest condolences to the Royal Family. “For most of us, she is the only head of state we have ever known, and will be remembered as an inspirational figure for our country and the Commonwealth.”
Coins featuring the new King will show him facing to the left. Elizabeth II’s effigy faces to the right. It is a tradition from the 17th century to alternate the way successive monarchs are facing. New coins and notes will need to be designed and minted or printed, but are not likely to appear in general circulation for some time. The Royal Mint advisory committee needs to send recommendations for new coins to the Chancellor and obtain royal approval. Designs are then chosen and the final choices approved by the Chancellor and then the King. The Queen’s coins did not appear until 1953 – the year after her accession. Elizabeth II’s coins are expected to stay in use until they are gradually replaced.
Any new post boxes could feature the new King’s cypher. At the start of the Queen’s reign in 1952, there were objections in Scotland to her being styled Elizabeth II because the Tudor queen Elizabeth I was never a queen of Scotland. A Post Office pillar box in Edinburgh bearing the ERII cypher was defaced and later blown up. Its replacement was left blank.
The new King will at some stage feature on British stamps, and others around the Commonwealth. He may have already sat for such sculptures or portraits, and he will again have to approve the designs. For her first stamps as monarch, the Queen was photographed by Dorothy Wilding three weeks after acceding to the throne and again around two months later, finally approving the image in May 1952. This portrait from 1952 was replaced in 1967 by the famous sculptured head by Arnold Machin, accompanied by the tiny cameo silhouette of the Queen.
The words to the National Anthem have changed to “God save our gracious King” with substitutions of “him” and “he”. This is a matter of tradition, not law.
Passports and His Majesty
The former Prince of Wales no longer needs his own passport, but for the rest of the UK passports will be issued in his name. The wording in new passports will be changed at some point. Her Majesty’s Passport Office will become His Majesty’s Passport Office, as is the case with HM Armed Forces and HM Prison Service. Face-to-face, Charles will be Your Majesty rather than Your Royal Highness on first meeting, and Sir on second reference, instead of Ma’am – to rhyme with “lamb” – which was used on second reference to Elizabeth II.
The new monarch will need a new Royal Cypher – the monogram impressed upon royal and state documents.
The Queen’s ERII features on traditional police helmets and postboxes. While English queens use the St Edward’s crown, or a variant of it, kings traditionally use the more rounded Tudor crown.
Military medals, such as operational ones and long service commendations featuring the Queen’s effigy, will need to be altered.
Coat of arms
The royal coat of arms, adopted at the start of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837, will remain the same. But just as when the Queen became monarch, it is likely that new artwork will be issued early in Charles’s reign by the College of Arms for use by public service bodies such as the civil service and the armed forces. The “very light rebranding” will be hard to spot, but it signifies the opportunity to replace old images, which have been in use for many decades, with newer differently stylised ones. The Duke of Cambridge will be given an updated coat of arms when he is made the Prince of Wales – a title which he does not inherit automatically.
Charles will need a new personal flag as King. In 1960, the Queen adopted a personal flag – a gold E with the royal crown surrounded by a chaplet of roses on a blue background – to be flown on any building, ship, car or aircraft in which she was staying or travelling. It was often used when she visited Commonwealth countries. While the Royal Standard represents the Sovereign and the United Kingdom, the Queen’s own flag was personal to her alone and could be flown by no-one other than the Queen.
Courts – QCs to KCs
In the UK, Queen’s Counsel (QC) refers to a set of barristers and solicitors who the monarch appoints to be a part of Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law. The title switches to King’s Counsel (KC) now a king reigns. Stationery and business cards may need to be reprinted to reflect the change in the post-nominal letters.