The Royal Mint issues a new Britannia coin each year – the most recent, for 2019, being designed by artist David Lawrence. This is the second consecutive year that Lawrence has produced a design for this iconic coin, drawing inspiration from Britannia’s ancient Roman roots.
Almost 2,000 years ago, under the rule of Emperor Hadrian, Britannia was first depicted on coins as a female warrior holding a spear and shield. She disappeared from coins after the Romans left, but returned to her place of numismatic glory under Charles II. She’s been a regular feature of British coinage ever since. “Britannia rules the waves,” they say, but it wasn’t until 1797 that she exchanged her spear for a trident – partly reflecting the strong nautical tradition associated with Britain.
The trident is present in David Lawrence’s 2019 take on the national icon. In his depiction, she raises it toward the new dawn, as if leading the people she represents. Beside her, another British symbol – the lion – serves as a steadfast companion.
Britannia has represented the British people for centuries, outlasting countless trends and weathering political and social change.
Over the centuries, Britannia has become an instantly recognisable icon of Britain. She has featured on monuments and even graced the pages of fashion magazines. She embodies the qualities we are proud of as a nation, with a strong, courageous spirit. She has never been confined to our coins, her Britishness making her a natural inspiration for many companies and corporations.