The real reason King Charles is facing the opposite way to Queen Elizabeth on new coins

King Charles is facing the opposite way to Queen Elizabeth in his recently-unveiled coinage portrait due to a centuries-old tradition...

King Charles is facing the opposite way to Queen Elizabeth on new coins, both monarchs are seen here on different days
(Image credit: Future// Image 1: Photo by Henry Nicholls - WPA Pool/Getty Images // Image 2: Photo by Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

There is a reason why King Charles is facing the opposite way to the late Queen Elizabeth on the new coins and it’s steeped in tradition.  

On September 30th, the first coinage portrait of King Charles III was officially unveiled by The Royal Mint. Designed by British sculptor Martin Jennings, King Charles’ coin effigy will appear on £5 coins that form part of a memorial collection in honour of Queen Elizabeth and will be released on October 3rd. 

There will also be a new 50p coin that is set to enter circulation in the coming months, and the Bank of England has now revealed the design for the new King Charles bank notes too.

The design has been approved personally by His Majesty and some fans might just have noticed a major difference between the portraits on the new coins and that of the Queen on the current ones. 

Whilst King Charles is depicted facing left, Queen Elizabeth faced right on her coins and there’s a very traditional reason for this…

As revealed by The Royal Mint, King Charles is facing the opposite way to Queen Elizabeth on the new coins because traditionally each new coinage portrait faces the opposite way to that of the monarch that preceded them. 

A new British coinage portrait tradition began during the Reformation and each time a new monarch ascended to the throne it became established that their portrait would face whichever way was different to the previous sovereign. 

The Royal Mint themselves shared that the exact cause of this pattern isn’t actually known, though they speculated that in the 17th Century King Charles II wished to “turn his back on Oliver Cromwell and the Commonwealth''. 

50 pence coin, 1993, obverse, queen Elizabeth II

(Image credit: Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

However, The Royal Mint had only prepared pattern pieces of the King’s coinage before his abdication and so no coins featuring this portrait had been issued or passed through the Royal Proclamation process. Since then the Queen’s father King George VI, the Queen and King Charles have resumed the traditional pattern facing left, right and left respectively. 

But that’s not the only difference some eagle-eyed fans might have spotted between the new King Charles portrait and that of his beloved mother! In her current effigy and many others over the years the Queen is seen wearing a tiara and King Charles isn’t wearing any kind of crown in his coinage portrait.

A five pound commemorative crown piece coin featuring the head of King Charles III displayed by the Royal Mint in London

(Image credit: Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

According to The Royal Mint this once again follows a long-established pattern as portraits of British Kings on coins haven’t featured a crown for centuries. The unveiling of King Charles’ new coinage portrait comes a few days after the royal mourning period for Queen Elizabeth ended. Paying tribute to the Queen in his first national address following her death on September 8th, King Charles reflected upon his mother’s remarkable life and legacy.

"Throughout her life, Her Majesty The Queen - my beloved Mother - was an inspiration and example to me and to all my family, and we owe her the most heartfelt debt any family can owe to their mother; for her love, affection, guidance, understanding and example," he powerfully declared. 

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Emma Shacklock
Senior Lifestyle Writer

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home,, and My Imperfect Life.