What does Queen Elizabeth’s death mean for cash across the Commonwealth?

Over the course of 30 years as a British royal photographer, Ian Jones captured countless images of Queen Elizabeth II from across the United Kingdom and around the world. One of his most memorable photographs was snapped specifically for Canadians.

A photograph of the queen by veteran royal photographer Ian Jones.

Ian Jones/Getty Images

In 2012, Jones was invited to Buckingham Palace to take a photograph of Her Majesty for the Bank of Canada’s new $20 bill.

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“To be commissioned by the queen to take her photograph for the Canadian banknote was such a great honor,” Jones said.

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But the photoshoot didn’t go according to plan.

Ahead of the monarch’s arrival, Jones and his assistant spent hours preparing the room, perfecting the lighting and the backdrop. But as the queen walked in and took her seat, Jones realized he’d overlooked one critical detail: her office chair was much too tall.

“The chair I had chosen was set at a height for my assistant, who was six-foot-one, and the queen isn’t six-foot-one,” he said.

“So when she sat down in the chair, her toes just about touched the floor. And she did a little skip around,” Jones told Global News, while reenacting the queen gleefully spinning herself in circles on the chair.

“She thought it was absolutely hilarious. A bit like a child might do on an office chair. But what it did prompt was a wonderful glint and a smile. And that really set the tone for the portrait session.”

British royal photographer Ian Jones recounts the silly story behind his image of the queen that appears on Canada’s $20 bill.

Darren Twiss / Global News

The queen’s image is ubiquitous — found on everything from money to stamps to souvenir coffee mugs. But the accession of a new monarch now requires an unprecedented undertaking of royal rebranding.

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Click to play video: 'Queen Elizabeth II's coffin set to move to London as masses of mourners pay their respects'

Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin set to move to London as masses of mourners pay their respects

Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin set to move to London as masses of mourners pay their respects

The British national anthem has already changed back to God Save the King. The Royal Mail has stopped printing Queen Elizabeth II stamps (although they can still be used) and will start creating new ones featuring the profile of King Charles III. And new currency featuring Charles’ portrait will also be produced soon after his coronation.

But it will likely be a while before the King gives his mother a run for her money.

The Queen’s image is featured on currency across the Commonwealth.

Global News

The queen’s image is featured on currency across the Commonwealth. At one time, she appeared on 33 different currencies — the most of any monarch in history, as noted by Guinness World Records.

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Over her 70-year record reign, the queen’s image on British currency was updated five times, charting her evolution as sovereign.

Over her 70-year record reign, the queen’s image on British currency was updated five times, charting her evolution as sovereign.

Jeff Semple / Global News

In the United Kingdom alone, there are about 4.5 billion individual Bank of England notes in circulation at the moment. As new currency is provided, the Elizabeth notes and coins will be gradually phased out.

“For the first time ever in most of our lives, we’re going to see more than one monarch on the coins of the realm,” said Don Chorney, a coin specialist at AH Baldwin & Sons, a 150-year-old London coin dealer.

Like its British counterpart, Canada’s Department of Finance isn’t confirming if or when the new King will make an appearance on our currency.

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Chorney expects new currency containing Charles’ image to be produced following his coronation. And in keeping with 400 years of royal tradition, Charles’ profile will likely be looking left, since the queen looked to her right.

“Going back all the way to King Charles II, the monarch’s portrait has gone from facing right to facing left,” Chorney said.

When it comes to stamps, it’s a similar story. The queen’s image has been featured on stamps since her coronation in 1953. Her most recent profile, first issued in 1966, has been printed 320 billion times — widely considered to be the most reproduced artwork in history.

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“Even though they changed the portrait on the coins in the ’80s, the queen was never satisfied with changing the portrait on the stamps. So she didn’t age on the stamps after 1966,” said George James, head of Commonwealth for Stanley Gibbons, a 160-year-old rare stamp and collectibles business.

This profile image of the queen first appeared on a British stamp in 1966. It has since been reproduced 320 billion times.

Global News

Speaking of mail, more than 60 percent of the UK’s 115,000 mailboxes also carry the EIIR mark of Queen Elizabeth II – E for Elizabeth and R for Regina, which means queen. They’re expected to remain in place for the foreseeable future.

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“I imagine the coins with Elizabeth will be circulating for many decades,” said Chorney.

The queen’s reign may be over, but we’ll carry her with us for years to come.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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