King Charles Presented With New U.K. Banknotes Featuring His Portrait

King Charles

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey and Chief Cashier Sarah John present King Charles with the first bank notes featuring his portrait at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday. Photo: Yui Mok/Pool via Reuters

King Charles has given the first U.K. banknotes bearing his portrait his seal of approval.

The King – who was presented with the new notes during an audience with Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England and Sarah John, Chief Cashier and Executive Director of Banking at Buckingham Palace – said they were “very well designed” and “very elegant.”

King Charles, 75, has put his public royal engagements on hold while he undergoes treatment for an unspecified form of cancer, but has continued his work within the palace walls.

The unveiling Tuesday comes after a surprise Easter Sunday walkabout with Queen Camilla following a service at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The appearance, a little over a week ago, was thought to be an encouraging sign as he continues treatment.

As Charles looked over the new £5, £10, £20 and £50 bills, Bailey reminded the King that it was “quite a big moment” in history as it marked the first time the sovereign had ever been changed on the nation’s currency. 

“This is what is so surprising. You would think that it goes back,” King Charles responded.

While notes have been issued by the Bank of England since the late 17th century, Charles’ late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, was the first British sovereign to be featured on its paper currency. She first appeared on a £1 note in 1960, followed by a 10 shilling note in 1961. Subsequent years would see her grace each denomination.

A view of the new five and 10 pound banknotes bearing a portrait of King Charles. Photo: Yui Mok/Pool via Reuters


The new polymer banknotes feature an engraving of King Charles created in the likeness of a 2013 photograph. Perhaps in line with his vision of a modernized monarchy, King Charles does not wear a crown in his portrait, as his mother does on each banknote she’s featured on.

The new notes will enter circulation on June 5, while the existing bills featuring Queen Elizabeth will remain in use and only replaced when too worn.

“Our approach is in line with guidance from the Royal Household, to minimize the environmental and financial impact of this change,” the national bank explained in a statement – alluding to King Charles’ commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation.

And speaking of modern ideas, the King elated royal watchers this week after it was announced that Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family’s private Scottish home, would be opened for tours this summer. The relatively affordable £100-tickets sold out in less than 24 hours.

The move appears to be in line with the monarch’s broader goal of making royal residences more accessible. The East Wing of Buckingham Palace, which includes the iconic balcony the royal family has gathered on for public appearances, will also be open to the public for the first time this summer.


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