Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Australia will have a new sovereign on our decimal coins for the first time in history.
Since 1953, the effigy of The Queen has appeared on Australian coins and, following her death, King Charles III will soon appear instead.
In fact, Australia has never known a decimal currency that didn’t bear the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.
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“Queen Elizabeth II first appeared on Australian coins when those coins were pence and shillings,” Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Andrew Leigh said.
“It will be a remarkable moment when Australia moves from having not a queen on the coins, but a king.”
So, here’s what we know about the changeover so far.
When will coins with King Charles III appear?
The first coins minted in the new year will bear the effigy of King Charles III.
The Royal Australian Mint will engage with its British counterpart to obtain an appropriate effigy that will then be confirmed with Buckingham Palace.
The new effigy will be tested and then put into production.
King Charles III will face left
Queen Elizabeth II was always facing to the right on Australian coins, but The King will face to the left, following a tradition that each successive monarch faces the opposite way to the previous.
This tradition dates back to 1660 - from King Charles II.
Coins with Queen Elizabeth II will still be valid
Coins with the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II will still be valid legal tender.
And for anyone concerned, coins bearing the effigy of King Charles III will still work in all vending machines, or any machine that takes coins.
“I don't expect that there'll be any change in the dimensions that would mean that they wouldn't operate in the coin machines that we have,” CEO of the Royal Australian Mint Leigh Gordon said.
How long until the coins with The Queen are out of circulation?
Short answer, a long time.
Gordon said the average lifespan of a coin was around 30 years, and those bearing the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II were no different.
“We expect our coins will last for about 30 years. And indeed we don't remove them from circulation as a distinct task,” Gordon said.
“We do accept coins back from the banks that have actually worn out. And we then go and dispose of those coins we melt them down for their metal and recycle them.
“But yes, we would expect that these coins will last for 30 years or more, and you could expect to see them for that sort of life.”
Will coins with Queen Elizabeth II be worth more now?
Some of them, yes.
In fact, the Royal Australian Mint will often print certain coins ahead of time - so, while the Mint does not expect to be printing any coins with The Queen’s effigy on them next year, some with a 2023 date have already been printed.
“There are some coins that are out there now with 2023 dates and The Queen,” Gordon said.
“They're collectible and investment coins that have been released, as we normally do in September each year for the following year.
“So we're in a period of transition, but certainly we don't plan to make any circulating coins or to issue any circulating coins that are dated 2023 with the current effigy on it.”
Will there be a change to the $5 note?
The $5 note also bears the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, though at this stage there are no plans to change it.
Leigh said the decision to have The Queen on the $5 note was about her personally, and not simply because she was the monarch - so it may not change.
However, Leigh said there would be a discussion in government about whether or not it would change, with an option being left open to not have a monarch on the $5 note at all.