Portraits of our Queen – the changing face of Britain’s coinage

This year marks Her Majesty’s 95th birthday year. Queen Elizabeth II is Britain’s longest reigning monarch, with an incredible 68 years on the throne.

The first Queen Elizabeth II coins were struck in 1953 and since then five different effigies have adorned our coins.

We asked you to vote for your favourite and portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the results are in…

Mary Gillick’s portrait of Her Majesty, the very first effigy of QEII, took 27.65% of the votes!

1953 – 1967: Mary Gillick

gillick - Portraits of a Queen - the changing face of Britain's coinage

The first coins of Queen Elizabeth’s reign bore Mary Gillick’s portrait of the young Queen, engraved especially for the new coins.

Her uncrowned portrait of the Queen is still used on the Maundy Money distributed each year by Her Majesty.

1968 – 1984: Arnold Machin RA

machin - Portraits of a Queen - the changing face of Britain's coinage

With the upcoming decimalisation, it was decided to refresh the Queen’s portrait with Arnold Machin’s new sculpture of the Queen. Commissioned in 1964, it first appeared in 1968 on the new 5p and 10p coins.  A version of the design with tiara was also introduced on stamps in 1967 and remains to this day.

1985 – 1997: Raphael Maklouf

maklouf - Portraits of a Queen - the changing face of Britain's coinage

In creating his new effigy of Her Majesty, Raphael Maklouf aimed “to create a symbol, regal and ageless”.

His “couped” portrait depicts Queen Elizabeth II wearing the royal diadem favoured by her on the way to and from the State Opening of Parliament.

1998 – 2015: Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS

irb - Portraits of a Queen - the changing face of Britain's coinage

In 1997, a new portrait of Her Majesty was designed by Ian Rank-Broadley. Created to fill the full circle of the coin, its larger size was a deliberate response to the smaller 5p and 10p coins in circulation.

A noticeably more mature portrayal of Her Majesty, Rank-Broadley aimed to show the Queen with “poise and bearing”.

2015 – Present: Jody Clark

The new “heads” side of the coin was designed by Jody Clark who at 33 was the youngest person to design a monarch’s profile on the currency.

It was the first time her portrait had been modified in 17 years and has remained on our UK coinage ever since.

This was arguably the first UK coin to introduce elements of personality with a hint of a smile. Clark is the first Royal Mint employee in over 100 years to design a UK definitive coin portrait


As Queen Elizabeth II is now one of the top five longest-reigning monarchs in the world, it’s only fitting that five of her portraits appear on our UK coinage.

Your favourite portrait will be revealed next week, so stay tune to find out if your vote won!


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6 Comments

  1. Neil on July 2, 2021 at 1:28 am

    I have collected every circulated coin from all 5 of her portraits. All 10 coins prior to decimalisation and after. Including when the 50p 10p and 5p were reduced in size too

  2. MR WILLIAM C HUTCHIN on July 1, 2021 at 6:03 pm

    Mary Gillick

  3. Michael Smith on July 1, 2021 at 3:18 pm

    Great portrait, and this year 1953 was the year of the queens Carnation,and the year me & my wife were born.

  4. Michael Smith on July 1, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    The reason I choose the 1953 portrait it is the Queens Coronation year and this was the year me & my wife were born not only that it’s a Great portrait.

  5. Ann Pace on July 1, 2021 at 2:59 pm

    Voted for the first one as I remember the Coronation and saw the young queen ride past, in the golden
    coach having slept all night on the pavement in Oxford Street the night before.

  6. Clive on July 1, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    Actually one of the top 4 longest reigning behind Louis XIV (France), Bhumibol Adulyadej (Thailand) and Johann II (Liechtenstein). If she can reign for another year she will be second, a further two years beyond that, the longest

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