Coins of Queen Elizabeth II: Crowns
Posted by Amit Bhandari on
Queen Elizabeth II (1952-2022) was the longest reigning British sovereign, and was one constant in a world marked by enormous change. She was not just the Queen of the United Kingdom, but also Australia, Canada, New Zealand and a number of other, smaller territories. As a result, she has also featured on the largest number of currencies - coins and notes. Here are some interesting coins issued during her reign, in no particular order.
Elizabeth became the Queen automatically, at the death of her father, in 1952. Her coronation took place in 1953, commemorated on the 5 shilling coin. 5 shillings was equal to 1 crown, or 1/4 pound. The Queen is mounted on her horse, and is in uniform. This was a large coin - 28.28 grams (1 oz) - and 38.6 millimeters in diameter. However, by the time this coin was issued, UK had moved off silver (due to World War II) - so this coin is copper-nickel.
Upon her ascension, Elizabeth was not just the Queen of the UK, but also Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and a number of other territories. Apart from the monarch, many of these territories also shared the currency. Pictured here is a 5 shilling silver coin of South Africa. South Africa was amongst the few countries (Australia, Canada and the US included), which continued to use silver coinage even after the World War II.
Winston Churchill was Queen Elizabeth's first Prime Minister - there were 15 in all. Churchill was also the Prime Minister of UK from 1940-45, during the World War II. A 1 crown commemorative coin was issued after his death, with Churchill's portrait on one side and the Queen on the other.
Britain decimalized its currency much after other countries, in 1971. From that year, the pound was divided into 100 pence. Old denominations such as crown (1/4 pound), shilling (1/5 crown) and pence (1/12 shilling) were dropped. However, the new 25 pence was equal to 1/4 pound - and coins of this denomination were issued in lieu of the old crown coins. In 1980, a new commemorative coin was issued on the 80th brithday of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (Queen Elizabeth II's mother, wife of King George VI). This coin has a portrait of the Queen and her mother.
In 1981, Elizabeth's eldest son Charles (then Prince of Wales, now King), married Lady Diana Spencer. The 25 pence commemorative coin was issued on that occasion, with conjoined portraits of Charles and Diana on one side. This may be the first coin to carry an image of Charles, who will feature on British coins in the future.