Britannia is the female personification of Britain, embodying the changing ideals and values of our country throughout history. She has often been said to reflect powerful women through the ages, and, in the case of certain British queens, the events and attitudes of their reigns.
The practice of portraying nations as idealised women dates back to the Roman era and, over the centuries, Britannia has developed into a ‘warrior queen,’ wearing a helmet and carrying a shield. During the eighteenth century her image was used to reinforce Britain’s mastery of the seas, and she was seen with her trident for the first time in a design by Conrad Heinrich Kuchler. Throughout the nineteenth century she embodied the might of the British Empire, a firm and assured figure leading Britain on the world stage, like Queen Victoria herself.
Armed and vigilant, modern Britannia continues to symbolise defence and control in a peaceful Britain.
Courage at her Command – The 2016 Design and the Designer
Sculptor Suzie Zamit is the only woman to have designed a coin featuring Britannia. The 2016 Britannia is her second Britannia for The Royal Mint, following her design for the Britannia coin range in 2010.
Suzie studied Fine Art Sculpture at City & Guilds of London Art School, has been a member of the Society of Portrait Sculptors since 1999 and a council member since 2007. Her other projects have included posthumous portraits of the artists Barry Flanagan and Francis Bacon.
For 2016 Britannia is seen with the British lion at her feet, a pairing seen on memorial plaques issued after the First World War, a national symbol of courage and protection.