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UK: King Charles banknotes enter circulation

June 5, 2024

Banknotes bearing the image of King Charles have begun to appear in British wallets. They will gradually replace the previous banknotes adorned with the face of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.

Photo issued by the Bank of England of the new banknotes carrying a portrait of King Charles III which will be issued for the first time on Wednesday.
Aside from the new monarch, the design of the banknotes is unchanged Image: Bank of England/AP/picture alliance

Banknotes bearing a portrait of King Charles entered circulation in Britain on Wednesday, almost two years after he succeeded the late Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.

Charles' image will appear on the new £5, £10, £20 and £50 bills, as existing notes featuring his mother will continue to circulate.

"This approach is in line with guidance from the Royal Household, to minimize the environmental and financial impact of this change," the Bank of England said.

"This means the public will begin to see the new King Charles III notes very gradually."

Coins with the King's portrait entered circulation in December 2022, a few months after the death of Elizabeth II.

'Historic moment' amid declining cash usage

Elizabeth was the first monarch to feature on British banknotes although coins in England have carried images of kings and queens for over 1,000 years.

"We're very pleased to be issuing the new King Charles banknotes. This is a historic moment, as it's the first time we've changed the sovereign on our notes," Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said on Wednesday.

Aside from the new monarch, the design of the banknotes is unchanged.

In recent years, consumers in the UK have favored electronic payments leading to a sharp fall in cash usage.

Cash usage fell from more than half of shop transactions in 2014 to just 15% by 2021. This was in large part believed to be due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, cash was used in around 19% of transactions.

Unlike Germany, many shops in the UK only accept card payments.

"We know that cash is important for many people, and we are committed to providing banknotes for as long as the public demand them. Bringing these new notes into circulation is a demonstration of that commitment," Bailey said.

dvv/ab (AFP, Reuters)