Designs for bank notes featuring an image of King Charles III have been revealed by the Bank of England, with plans to enter circulation by mid-2024.
Announcing the design for the first time in the run-up to the coronation in May, the UK central bank said the king’s portrait would appear on existing designs of all four of its polymer bank notes currently in circulation – £5, £10, £20 and £50.
The king’s image will appear on the front of the bank notes, as well as in the see-through security window on the notes, which are made from polymer plastic. Notes featuring Queen Elizabeth II will also continue to remain legal tender, allowing the public to carry on using them as normal.
Threadneedle Street said plans had been made in line with guidance from the royal household to minimise the environmental and financial impact of the change by only printing new notes to replace worn bank notes, and to meet any overall increase in demand for the currency.
This will mean notes featuring Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III will “co-circulate”, it said.
King Charles will become only the second monarch in British history to feature on a bank note. Although paper money has been produced by the Bank of England since the late 1600s, a likeness of the reigning monarch was first featured in 1960, when the £1 note showing Queen Elizabeth II was introduced for everyday use. Coins have, however, featured the monarch for centuries.
The Queen’s head also features on some $20 banknotes in Canada, on coins in New Zealand, and in some other Commonwealth nations.
Usage of physical currency has steadily fallen in recent years amid the rise of card and contactless payments. However, more than 4.7bn Bank of England notes featuring the Queen remain in circulation, worth about £82bn.
It comes after the gradual phasing out of paper bank notes and the bringing in of those printed on polymer – a thin and flexible plastic material – since the introduction of the £5 note featuring Winston Churchill on the reverse in 2016.
Although the note designs revealed by the Bank will feature a new portrait of the monarch, the reverse side will remain unchanged, with the author Jane Austen on the £10 notes, the artist JMW Turner on the £20 ones and the computer scientist Alan Turing on the £50 notes. Security features, including holograms and plastic windows, will also remain unchanged.
The launch of the note will stand as one of the most prominent changes for royal symbols since the death of the Queen in September; alongside new coins, stamps and the king’s CR monogram to be used on state documents and postboxes.
Andrew Bailey, the Bank’s governor, said: “I am very proud that the Bank is releasing the design of our new banknotes, which will carry a portrait of King Charles III. This is a significant moment, as the king is only the second monarch to feature on our banknotes. People will be able to use these new notes as they start to enter circulation in 2024.”