Why is King Charles III not wearing a crown on his stamps and coins?

8 February 2023, 12:27

King Charles alongside his first stamp
King Charles has approved his stamp and he isn't wearing a crown. Picture: Alamy

By Zoe Adams

King Charles has revealed his new coins and stamps and there's a stark difference between his version and the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The Coronation of King Charles III will be happening on May 6th and the UK has begun to make the final transitions from Queen Elizabeth II to his majesty, including the new coins, notes and stamps going into circulation.

Revealing the latest stamps from the Royal Mail, and following the new coin debut, people have noticed one big difference - the new king isn't wearing a crown.

Simple and understated, Charles has personally approved the new images which were created by sculptor Martin Jennings. It's understood he's very pleased with the likeness.

Charles is the seventh monarch to feature on the definitive stamp.

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So why is King Charles III not wearing a crown? And when will the new coins, notes and stamps go into circulation?

King Charles III in a blue suit
King Charles III will be coronated on May 6 and can then officially wear a crown. Picture: Alamy
Queen Elizabeth II stamps
Queen Elizabeth kept this same image on first and second class stamps. Picture: Alamy

Why is King Charles III not wearing a crown?

Like with most royal decisions, this essentially comes down to tradition and typically, male monarchs do not wear crowns or royal regalia on coins.

He will, however, be the first monarch on a stamp to not have a crown as King George VI, the last male monarch, featured a crown in his stamp design.

And it was King Charles himself who made the decision to scrap any royal regalia.

Royal Mail director of external affairs, David Gold said: "The feedback we got back [from Charles] was that he wanted it to be simple. It's a very human image, with no embellishment."

Other theories suggest that King Charles isn't wearing a crown because he's not officially allowed to wear one yet. No images of the new king wearing any crown, including the Imperial State Crown or St Edward's Crown, are permitted until he has his coronation.

The Queen had a number of images feature on coins and stamps during her reign so there is still time for Charles to have one added should he choose to.

There's also the argument that the late Queen wasn't wearing a crown in her stamp but a diadem - a statement piece of royal jewellery that can only be worn by female monarchs.

King Charles on his first 50p
King Charles is following royal traditions when it comes to coins. Picture: Alamy

When will the new coins, stamps and notes go into circulation?

This ranges differently across all three things:

Stamps

The King has been very clear that he wants all current first and second class stamp supplies to be used before they begin producing anymore. They will go on general sale from April 4.

Coins

Some coins, including the new 50p, have been on sale to collectors since September 2022 and then went into general circulation from the end of the year. These will be distributed when and where they're needed.

From 2023, coins from 1p up to £2 will also begin to carry the image of King Charles III - again when and where needed.

Coins with both monarchs on will circulate together for many years to come.

Notes

The UK public will be waiting until mid 2024 to see King Charles appear on bank notes. All money featuring the Queen will remain in circulation.

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