Influential women who have featured on UK coins
The 8th March, is International Women’s Day. To celebrate, we take a close look at just some of the incredible women who have been commemorated on our UK coins!
Her Majesty The Queen (1926 – Present)
It’s really a no brainer that we’re going to start with Her Majesty the Queen as her portrait features on all of our current UK coinage and has featured on no less than 15 commemorative £5 coins and crowns!
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is our longest reigning monarch, the fifth longest reigning monarch worldwide, and our first ruling monarch to have reached her 95th birthday year!
There have been some incredible coins celebrating Her Majesty, including the recently issued 2021 UK 95th Birthday £5, the 2018 65th Coronation Anniversary £5, and even the 1977 Silver Jubilee 25p Crown.
Queen Elizabeth II is arguably the most loved and respected monarch our country has even seen so it’s only right on the day we honour the achievements of women throughout history, that we dedicate a portion to Her Majesty.
Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana Frances Spencer married the Prince of Wales in July 1981. Constantly the subject of media frenzy, Diana tragically died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 whilst trying to escape paparazzi. The world was stunned at her tragic death and it triggered grief all around the world.
Diana left a legacy of bravery, courage, and kindness. She played a significant role in banning landmines, setting up and supporting a range of charity operations, and being an active role model for both her children and members of society.
In 1999, to commemorative Lady Diana’s life, The Royal Mint issued this £5 featuring her profile on the reverse.
Beatrix Potter (1866 – 1943)
Beatrix Potter truly was a woman ahead of her time. Not only was she an accomplished children’s author and illustrator, she was a passionate and knowledgeable farmer and conservationist – long before it became popular.
However, it’s fair to say her enchanting tales of countryside characters, including Peter Rabbit and Mrs. Tiggywinkle, skyrocketed her to stardom. And in 2016, Beatrix Potter’s life was commemorated on a brand new series of 50p coins.
We’ve since seen 15 coins celebrating the famous author, including the very latest 2020 Peter Rabbit 50p which was confirmed as the very last UK 50p featuring the cheeky character.
Rosalind Franklin (1920 – 1958)
English chemist, Rosalind Franklin, sits right at the very heart of the story of DNA.
Her ground-breaking research and inspiring work ethic were central to the discovery of the helical structure of DNA, which was later publicised by Watson and Crick.
Tragically, at the age of just 27, Franklin passed away from ovarian cancer, robbing her of the same awards and recognitions that her colleagues were gifted.
But in 2020, to celebrate what would have been her 100th birthday, she also became the second scientist to be celebrated in The Royal Mint’s Innovation in Science series.
The reverse design of this coin, by David Knapton, features a depiction of her famous Photograph 51, which enabled her to discover the structure of DNA in her laboratory in Cambridge.
Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910)
Named after the Italian city in which she was born in 1820, Florence Nightingale is famous for her work in the military hospitals during the Crimean War where she tended to wounded soldiers.
In 1860 she laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. Her book ‘Notes on Nursing’ proved to be influential in changing the way hospitals were run and the role of nurses within them.
Released in 2010 to commemorate 150 years of nursing, the reverse design of this £2 coin, by Gordon Summers, features the image of a nurse taking the pulse of a patient.
Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976)
After the end of the First World War, Christie published her first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles. This incredibly popular story introduced readers to one of Christie’s most famous characters – Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.
Writing well into her later years, Christie wrote more than 70 detective novels as well as short fiction. Her books have been made into films, television, and radio programmes. In 1971, she was made a Dame of the British Empire for her outstanding contribution to literature.
In 2020, to mark 100 years since her first publication, The Royal Mint celebrated the world’s best-selling novelist with a new £2 coin.
David Lawrence’s design of this coin pays homage to Christie’s crime novels, with a piece of jigsaw slotting into place and her signature at the bottom.
There really have been some incredible women celebrated on our UK coins and this is just a small selection!
Is there an influential women you’d like to see on our coins in the future? Let us know in the comments below!
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What happened to Margaret Thatcher then? First woman Prime Minister, re-elected twice. Like or Loath the Tories she was a powerful pro-british woman
Not sure that Nancy Astor should feature on a UK coin as she was American, only moving to the UK at the age of 26. Doesn’t detract from her achievement though. I think there is only one statue of a woman in Parliament Square, so maybe that would be a more fitting tribute?
She is the last woman who should appear on a UK coin. During World War II she was known in parliament as the “Member for Berlin”. She also called the British troops fighting in Italy as “D-day Dodgers” which did not go down well with the troops fighting and dying in Italy. No statue in Parliament Square either thank you very much.
How about Marie Curie?
She is definiately worthy of appearing on a coin or even a banknote.
They are all worthy of commemoration. It’s about time more women were publicly remembered for their contribution to society.
What about Suffragettes & Emmeline Pankhurst?
Hi Chin, there is actually a 50p coin commemorating the Suffragettes: https://www.changechecker.org/coin/7/50p-Suffragettes.aspx Thanks Luke