First coinage featuring King Charles III released

<span>Photograph: The Royal Mint/PA</span>
Photograph: The Royal Mint/PA

The first coinage featuring King Charles III will appear on the 50p coin in circulation in post offices around the UK from Thursday.

Created by sculptor Martin Jennings and personally approved by Charles, the king’s portrait faces to the left, in the opposite direction to the late Queen.

The reverse of the 50p features a design that originally appeared on the 1953 Coronation Crown, and struck to commemorate the Queen’s coronation at Westminster Abbey.

It includes the four quarters of the Royal Arms depicted within a shield, and between each shield an emblem of the home nations: a rose, a thistle, a shamrock and a leek.

All UK coins bearing the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II will remain legal tender and in active circulation.

A commemorative version of the coin was released in October, generating record visitors to the Royal Mint’s website in the 24 hours after.

A total of 4.9m 50p coins will enter circulation across 9,452 Post Office branches throughout December. Coins will be distributed as change when customers make purchases.

In line with demand, 9.6m 50p coins will eventually enter circulation.

Rebecca Morgan, director of collector services at the Royal Mint, said: “Today marks a new era for UK coinage, with the effigy of King Charles III appearing on 50ps in circulation.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for coin collectors to add to their collections, or start one for the first time.

“We anticipate a new generation of coin collectors emerging, with people keeping a close eye on their change to try to spot a new 50p that bears the portrait of our new king.

“The Royal Mint has been trusted to make coins bearing the monarch’s effigy for over 1,100 years and we are proud to continue this tradition into the reign of King Charles III.”

Nick Read, chief executive of the Post Office, added: “It is a tremendous honour for the Post Office and for postmasters that the first coinage featuring King Charles III is being released into circulation via our extensive branch network.

“December is our busiest time of the year so the coin will be entering our network in a phased manner. If you don’t receive the new 50p in your change on your first visit to a post office you may well get it in your change in a subsequent visit, so keep a look out for it.”