A first look at banknotes with the image of Charles

A first look at banknotes with the image of Charles III

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(London) Before the new banknotes with the image of King Charles III. They will be put into circulation in June and will be presented to the public from Wednesday at an exhibition organized by the Bank of England in London.

Posted at 4:13 p.m.


Joe JACKSON Agence France-Presse

The four denominations – 5, 10, 20 and 50 pounds sterling, visible in the Central Bank's premises, show a portrait of the sovereign published in 2013 and approved by him in 2022 after the death of his mother Elizabeth II.

After the United Kingdom ruled for 70 years and featured its first monarch on banknotes, this is “the first time the public has witnessed such a transition,” points out AFP's Jennifer Adam, the museum's curator.

This unprecedented change comes at a specific time: King Charles III, who announced earlier this month that he was suffering from cancer, has renounced his public engagements for the duration of his treatment.

Tickets with the image of Elizabeth II will always be valid, with the new ones “gradually replacing” those that have become too “old and worn” over time, according to Jennifer Adam.

“So we will have to wait a while” after their release, on June 5, 2024, for those bearing the image of Charles to be widely distributed.

These new banknotes will also be made from a more durable polymer and with a plastic structure – rather than paper – like other banknotes issued in the UK since 2016.

Gradual replacement

Coins with the head of Charles III, based on a portrait by the British sculptor Martin Jennings, were already put into circulation in December 2022 and are provisionally present in this exhibition “Future of Money” (l Future of Money).

This allows us to discover at the heart of this institution, which has been issuing banknotes since its founding in 1694, that Elizabeth II was the first ruler of the United Kingdom to appear on a denomination, namely a banknote. “One pound put into circulation.” in 1960.

From 1970, other historical figures also appeared on the other side, including Prime Minister Winston Churchill (five books), the founder of the nursing school Florence Nightingale (ten books), the author William Shakespeare (twenty books) and the mathematician Alan Turing (50 pounds). .

The Bank of England Museum also permanently houses centuries-old coins and gold bars – there are around 400,000 in its vaults – as well as the first banknotes, made in the late 17th century.

The exhibition, which runs until September 2025, also addresses the gradual disillusionment with cash and the rise of virtual currencies in recent years.

It details the decline in the use of banknotes in the UK, noting that banknotes will only account for 14% of payments in 2022, compared to 55% in 2011.

According to the museum, this figure could fall further to 7% by 2032. The country has lost 15,000 ATMs and nearly 2,000 bank branches in the last five years.

However, a law was passed last year to protect access to cash, as almost a million people still do not have a bank account.