Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II was born on 21st April 1926. She was the first child of The Duke and Duchess of York, who later became George VI and Queen Elizabeth. She was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace. The young princess spent most of her early years enjoying a quiet family life with her parents and her sister, Princess Margaret.

When Princess Elizabeth’s grandfather, George V, died in 1936, her uncle came to the throne as Edward VIII. Before the end of the year, Edward had abdicated and Princess Elizabeth’s father became George VI. This meant the young princess was now next in line for the throne. When her father died in 1952, The Queen acceded to the throne at the age of 25. She celebrates two birthdays every year: her actual birthday on 21 April and her official birthday on a Saturday in June. The official birthday is held in the summer as it means there’s a better chance of good weather for the ceremony.

In 2016, Queen Elizabeth II became the world’s longest reigning living monarch, having already surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s reign to become the first British monarch to mark more than 63 years of service. From a young queen and a fairy-tale coronation, to a pillar of strength in an ever-changing world, we have shared in the highs and lows for an incredible 95 years of Her Majesty’s life.

We’re proud to have struck every official United Kingdom coin of Her Majesty’s reign, from the change in your pocket to the special coins that commemorated her coronation and jubilees.

Five Portraits

Five portraits of Her Majesty The Queen have been used on the United Kingdom coinage since her accession to the throne in 1952.

 Mary Gillick 1953 Portrait

Mary Gillick 1953 Portrait

New coins showing the first portrait of Her Majesty were issued in 1953. They represented a fresh start following the Second World War, and announced a new Elizabethan era. The Queen looked youthful and optimistic and the portrait was used on the coins of the United Kingdom and the coinage of many Commonwealth countries.

1968 Arnold Machin RA Portrait

Although the switch to decimalisation did not happen until 1971, decimal coins entered circulation before then. The 5p and 10p pieces were introduced in 1968 to replace the existing shillings and florins. To help the new coins stand out from the older currency, a new portrait of The Queen was commissioned. Designed by Arnold Machin RA, the new portrait showed The Queen wearing a tiara instead of a wreath. Like Mary Gillick before him, Machin avoided using a ‘couped’ portrait – cut off by the neck – which had been the norm on coins issued earlier in the century.

 1968 Arnold Machin RA Portrait
 1985 Raphael Maklouf Portrait

1985 Raphael Maklouf Portrait

From 1985 to 1997, UK circulating coins featured a royal portrait by the sculptor Raphael Maklouf. The portrait was couped and showed The Queen wearing the royal diadem, which she normally wears on her way to and from the State Opening of Parliament. If you look closely you can see the artist’s initials, ‘RDM’, at the bottom of The Queen’s neck. Maklouf included his middle initial, D for David, to make sure that his initials wouldn’t be seen as a reference to The Royal Mint.

1998 Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS Portrait

The new portrait by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS, introduced in 1998, makes for an interesting contrast with its predecessor, being less idealised and more strongly realistic. Ian Rank-Broadley explained there was: “No need to disguise the matureness of The Queen’s years. There is no need to flatter her. She is a 70-year-old woman with poise and bearing.”

 1998 Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS Portrait
  2015 Jody Clark Portrait

2015 Jody Clark Portrait

The latest portrait of The Queen was unveiled in 2015. It is the fourth portrait of The Queen that can be found in circulation today, as the Arnold Machin, Raphael Maklouf and Ian Rank-Broadley portraits all still feature on the coins of the nation. Jody Clark is the first Royal Mint coin designer to design a definitive royal coinage portrait in over 100 years.

Mary Gillick 1953 Portrait

Mary Gillick 1953 Portrait

New coins showing the first portrait of Her Majesty were issued in 1953. They represented a fresh start following the Second World War, and announced a new Elizabethan era. The Queen looked youthful and optimistic and the portrait was used on the coins of the United Kingdom and the coinage of many Commonwealth countries.

1968 Arnold Machin RA Portrait

1968 Arnold Machin RA Portrait

Although the switch to decimalisation did not happen until 1971, decimal coins entered circulation before then. The 5p and 10p pieces were introduced in 1968 to replace the existing shillings and florins. To help the new coins stand out from the older currency, a new portrait of The Queen was commissioned. Designed by Arnold Machin RA, the new portrait showed The Queen wearing a tiara instead of a wreath. Like Mary Gillick before him, Machin avoided using a ‘couped’ portrait – cut off by the neck – which had been the norm on coins issued earlier in the century.

1985 Raphael Maklouf Portrait

1985 Raphael Maklouf Portrait

From 1985 to 1997, UK circulating coins featured a royal portrait by the sculptor Raphael Maklouf. The portrait was couped and showed The Queen wearing the royal diadem, which she normally wears on her way to and from the State Opening of Parliament. If you look closely you can see the artist’s initials, ‘RDM’, at the bottom of The Queen’s neck. Maklouf included his middle initial, D for David, to make sure that his initials wouldn’t be seen as a reference to The Royal Mint.

1998 Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS Portrait

1998 Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS Portrait

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were both progressive individuals, personifying the energy and spirit of change that defined their era. Prince Albert helped to organise the Great Exhibition, providing a showcase of British innovation and skill in culture and industry, and the enormous Crystal Palace structure in Hyde Park was built specifically for the exhibition.

2015 Jody Clark Portrait

2015 Jody Clark Portrait

The latest portrait of The Queen was unveiled in 2015. It is the fourth portrait of The Queen that can be found in circulation today, as the Arnold Machin, Raphael Maklouf and Ian Rank-Broadley portraits all still feature on the coins of the nation. Jody Clark is the first Royal Mint coin designer to design a definitive royal coinage portrait in over 100 years.

The First Coins Struck for Queen Elizabeth II

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First Coins Struck for Queen Elizabeth II

Coronation of The Queen's Beasts

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Celebrating a Milestone with The Sovereign

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Her Majesty The Queen's Birthdays

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