A prototype of the new $1 coin.
The Australian $1 coin will be the first to carry the new effigy of King Charles III. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

Image of King Charles on Australian coins unveiled

Andrew Brown October 5, 2023

After more than 70 years with the image of a Queen, Australian cash is now King.

The Royal Australian Mint on Thursday unveiled the effigy of King Charles III, which will be seen on Australian coins by Christmas.

The first coin to bear the effigy will be the dollar, with other denominations to be rolled out progressively in 2024, based on demand from banks.

The image of King Charles III is the official Commonwealth effigy and was designed by the Royal Mint in London and given royal approval.

In line with tradition, King Charles will appear on coins facing left, in an about-face from the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II who faced right.

Much like the Queen’s first image on Australian coins, King Charles’s first appearance on currency does not feature him wearing a crown.

More than 10 million $1 coins bearing the King’s image will be distributed by the Mint as part of the first round of circulation.

Royal Australian Mint chief executive Leigh Gordon said while it had taken more than 12 months to get the design finalised, multiple tests had to be carried out.

“We were very respectful of the process and we didn’t want to jump the gun. We also wanted to allow the British Royal Mint to be in a position where it had an effigy to be able to release to the Commonwealth nations,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

“We want to get it right, these coins will last for 30 years or more depending on the usage, so we need to get it right.”

Mr Gordon said the number of coins issued as part of the first circulation was slightly lower than the normal amount of $1 coins issued annually.

“There’s certainly a lot going out in a small amount of time between now and Christmas,” he said.

The Mint will carry out final checks on the coins as the currency goes into mass production.

Assistant Treasury Minister Andrew Leigh said for many Australians it would be the first time they’ve seen a different face on the currency.

“Since 1953, every Australian coin has borne a Queen, that’s been true since decimal currency came into effect in 1966,” he said.

“For most Australians, this will be the first time they have held in their hands a coin with a King.”

Collectible coins bearing King Charles III will be on sale from early next year.

All coins carrying the image of Queen Elizabeth will still be able to be used as legal currency.

“(Coins with the Queen) will continue to be in circulation for many years to come, so Australians will be spending coins with Queen Elizabeth’s face for decades,” Dr Leigh said.

While Australian coins have been updated to feature the new monarch, King Charles III won’t replace his mother on the $5 note.

The Reserve Bank earlier this year said King Charles would not feature on the note, which will instead feature an Indigenous design.

The central bank said the new design would honour “the culture and history of the First Australians”.

The new note, which will retain Parliament House on the other side, is expected to take several years to be designed and printed.

Dr Leigh said there was no plan to remove the monarch from the back of Australian coins in the future.