As is likely to be the case with future Australian coins, the portrait of King Charles III will feature his head facing the opposite direction from that of his late mother.
However, in a manner reminiscent of a mother and son performing a double act, they will trade alongside one another.
Beginning with Charles II in 1660, a new king’s profile picture on coins is minted with them facing the opposite direction as their predecessor’s portrait. This practise is said to have originated from a legend.
This royal tradition would be continued by a Charles III portrait facing west.
Since her coronation in 1953, a total of six different portraits of Queen Elizabeth II have been printed on the obverse side of Australian banknotes. The most current of these was printed in 2018 and has the monarch looking to the right.
The “about-face” standard was broken only for the coinage that featured Edward VIII, who insisted on having his profile facing left. This was the single exception to the rule.
“It is not clear whether this was an expression of rebellion against convention or vanity,” John Richardson of Britain’s Open University said. “It is not clear whether this was an expression of rebellion against convention or vanity, to show what he regarded as his better profile, which contained his hair parting.”
“Notwithstanding this, it was decided that designs for the coinage of George VI, his successor, should be created as though that of Edward VIII had already…
showed him with his right side facing the viewer, so restoring the old custom.”
All of the countries that make up the Commonwealth, including Australia, will soon have new minted currency with redesigned coins and notes.
Since her debut on a banknote in 1935 for Canada’s 20-dollar bill, Queen Elizabeth II has graced the paper money of over 30 different countries.
During that time period, she was only nine years old.