The first coins bearing the official effigy of the King have appeared in circulation in post offices around the UK.
The King’s portrait will first appear on a 50p, with the reverse, or “tails” side of the coin, commemorating the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth II.
A commemorative version of the coin was released in October, generating record visitors to the Royal Mint’s website in the 24 hours following.
A total of 4.9 million 50p coins will enter circulation across 9,452 Post Office branches throughout December.
Coins will be distributed as change when customers make purchases.
Some 9.6 million 50p coins will eventually enter circulation, in line with demand.
The Post Office’s Aldwych branch in central London, near to Clarence House, is among the locations getting the new coins.
The coins’ appearance coincides with the release of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s controversial Netflix docuseries, with the royal family braced for Harry and Meghan’s latest revelations.
Rebecca Morgan, director of collector services at the Royal Mint, said: “Today marks a new era for UK coinage, with the effigy of King Charles III appearing on 50ps in circulation.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for coin collectors to add to their collections, or start one for the first time.
“We anticipate a new generation of coin collectors emerging, with people keeping a close eye on their change to try and spot a new 50p that bears the portrait of our new King.
“The Royal Mint has been trusted to make coins bearing the monarch’s effigy for over 1,100 years and we are proud to continue this tradition into the reign of King Charles III.”
Nick Read, chief executive of the Post Office, added: “It is a tremendous honour for the Post Office and for postmasters that the first coinage featuring King Charles III is being released into circulation via our extensive branch network.
“December is our busiest time of the year so the coin will be entering our network in a phased manner. If you don’t receive the new 50p in your change on your first visit to a post office you may well get it in your change in a subsequent visit, so keep a look out for it.”
The King’s effigy has been created by sculptor Martin Jennings and personally approved by Charles.
The value of the new 50p is unlikely to become a collectible item, with coin enthusiasts told they will struggle to make a profit when selling the coin on sites such as eBay.
Coin Expert writer Joe Trewick told This Is Money: “We wouldn’t expect the coin to be worth a significant amount on the secondary market: 50p coins with similar mintage figures sell for between £1.14 and £1.37.
“However, since this is the first 50p in circulation to feature King Charles III there’s no doubt that the value could (and likely will) go higher initially as collectors rush to add it to their collections.
“A good example of this is the 2022 Platinum Jubilee 50p, with examples on Ebay selling for well above face value within weeks of the coin’s release.”
In keeping with tradition, the King’s portrait faces to the left – in the opposite direction to the late Queen.
The reverse of the 50p features a design which originally appeared on the 1953 Coronation Crown.
It was struck to commemorate the Queen’s coronation at Westminster Abbey and includes the four quarters of the Royal Arms depicted within a shield.
Between each shield is an emblem of the home nations: a rose, a thistle, a shamrock and a leek.
All UK coins bearing the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II will remain legal tender and in active circulation.
Around 27 billion coins circulating across the UK bear her portrait.
They will be replaced over time as they become damaged or worn and to meet demand for additional coins.
Historically, it has been commonplace for coins featuring the effigies of different monarchs to co-circulate, ensuring a smooth transition with minimal environmental impact and cost.