Every November, the nation comes together in silent memoriam as our thoughts turn to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country over the last century and beyond. At The Royal Mint, our Remembrance Day coinage has become an annual tradition recognising this and 2020 is no exception. In addition to the yearly commemorations, 2020 will also mark the centenary of the ceremonial burial of the Unknown Warrior on 11 November 1920 – the unidentifiable fallen soldier repatriated from the French battlefields to England for burial, symbolic of all those who made the trip to the front line and never returned. With such history and legend attached to this monumental anniversary, transferring this epic tale and the wider theme of remembrance onto a single coin was no small feat. Fortunately, this year’s design was left in the capable hands of The Royal Mint’s own Natasha Preece. We sat down with Natasha to get the inside story and find out exactly how she managed to poignantly pay tribute to these fallen servicemen and servicewomen in her finished coin design.
“When approaching this concept, I wanted to create something completely different to what had been designed for previous Remembrance Day coins. I wanted the design to be unique and instantly recognisable. I started by researching how Remembrance is celebrated over the UK, looking at the memorial services, statues and monuments, as well as print tributes like commemorative posters throughout the years.
“I knew from the start that I wanted to incorporate a silhouette of a soldier to represent all the soldiers that had fallen in the line of duty. I also wanted to include the line ‘Lest We Forget’ as an additional reminder of the sacrifices made by those that fell in Flanders Fields.
“In addition to that, I felt that the coin needed to feature Papaver rhoeas [the common poppy] as a prominent part of the design due to its strong association with the First World War and symbolism of those that died during the conflict. When I knew all the elements I wanted to include in the design – the soldier, poppies, ‘Lest We Forget’ and, of course, the date – I started designing concepts using all four elements until I came up with a composition I was happy with.
“While I knew what direction I wanted to go in with the design, the process wasn’t without its challenges. I wanted the flowers to look 3D which proved to be quite tricky while sticking to the parameters of coin production.
“Meanwhile, making the flowers appear as if they were stacked upon one another was also difficult without losing detail. Fortunately, I was able to overcome these hurdles without impacting the overall design. This project is my first UK coin design and I am extremely happy with the end result, especially as it commemorates such an important historic event. As it’s my very first coin, I can’t wait to see the finished product in the packaging and buy one for myself.”