She made her first appearance on British coins in 1672 and subsequently became a permanent figure in an unbroken cycle lasting more than 300 years. Now, according to coinupdate.com, The Royal Mint have announced at the Berlin Coin Show that this year Britannia will be making a triumphant return to the new £2 coin.
The last time Britannia appeared on British circulating coinage was 2008 – you probably remember last seeing her on the Fifty Pence piece. Her removal outraged thousands, with a well-publicised campaign led by the Daily Mail proving unsuccessful in saving a long-standing and unequivocally British institution.
It was the Romans who first created the personification of Britain as a noble female warrior, but it was Charles II who introduced her to British coinage in 1672. Charles was married to Catherine of Braganza at the time, but interestingly, it was actually her Maid of Honour and object of his desires; Frances Teresa Stuart or ‘La Belle Stuart’, who modelled and was immortalised as the figure of Britannia.
When Britannia first appeared on the Charles II Farthing, Britain was engaged in a naval battle with Holland, and her figure came to be a defining symol of British national spirit. Her evocative seated pose with a trident and shield embodied British defiance and sovereignty over the seas, at a time when the British Empire, and in particular the British Royal Navy, was at the height of its power.
The History of Technology design on the £2 coin which was first introduced in 1997 never really captured the imagination of the public. Now, after an 18-year stint on Britain’s highest denomination coin, it will be making way for the return of a quintessentially British icon.
The news of Britannia’s return was received with much excitement at the 2015 World Money Fair in Berlin, and with the revelation of a fifth Queen’s portrait imminent, this is another major development for Change Checkers to look forward to.
You can now find Britannia and some of the other British circulating 50p designs in the Change Checker shop.
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