Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her birthday twice each year – once on the anniversary of the day she was born, and on an “official” birthday in June, which is a tradition started by George II in 1748.
Over the last ninety years, the British public have witnessed, celebrated and taken part in some of the most significant events in the Queen’s life. Since her coronation in 1953, the image of the Queen has adorned British coinage through a series of beautifully designed portraits.
On 9 September 2015, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British history surpassing the record set by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, who ruled for 63 years and 216 days. It really is an astounding record of a monarch who has given stability and permanency to a country that has changed dramatically in the 60 years since the Queen ascended to the throne.
Loved and respected by many nations and peoples across the world, her sense of duty and service has been paramount and continues to be so even though the Queen is at an age where most have been long retired.
During her reign, there have been four historical portraits of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II which have appeared on British coinage. Each of these designs, together with the exquisite new effigy of the Queen created in honour of her ninetieth birthday. Let’s take a glance at the coins that have accompanied the Queen during those years.
The first coins of Queen Elizabeth’s reign bore Mary Gillick’s portrait design; this beautiful coin recalls the grace and splendor of the young Queen. Representing the symbolic feeling of youth and optimism in the country during the 1950s which many describe as the dawn of a new Elizabeth age.
The uncrowned portrait of the Queen is distributed each year by Her Majesty, on Maundy Thursday.
With the upcoming decimilisation in 1971, it was decided the country needed not just new coins but also a new portrait of the Queen. Arnold Machin – a well-respected Royal Academician was given the task of creating the new effigy. His design, featured Her Majesty wearing the Girls of Great Briton and Ireland tiara, was first seen on the new decimal 5p and 10p coins issued in 1968 and was used until 1984.
As the Queen approached her sixtieth birthday, her effigy on the coinage was changed once more by sculptor Raphael Maklouf, his portrait was aimed to ‘create a regal and ageless symbol’. His “couped” portrait depicts Queen Elizabeth II wearing the on the way to and from the State Opening of Parliament.
In 1998 the Queen’s effigy was updated by designer Ian Rank-Broadley, his effigy shows a mature Queen, ‘a 70 year old woman with poise and bearing’. With the introduction of new, smaller 5p, 10p and 50p coins in 1990s, Rank-Broadley was also aware of the need to make the Queen’s head as large as possible so his portrait remains crisp and visible even on coins as tiny as the 5p.
2016: The Official 90th Birthday Portrait by
Raphael Maklouf has once again captured the essence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with a stunning portrait sculpted in honour of her landmark ninetieth birthday. Drawing inspiration from his earlier portrait, Maklouf has created a new portrait of Her Majesty in which she once more wears the Royal Diamond Diadem and earring that reminiscent of Maklouf’s earlier portrait. With extraordinary skill, he has also managed to depict the quiet happiness that has marked the latter part of Her Majesty’s record breaking reign and shows a Queen, deservedly content after nine decades gloriously accomplished.
If you are interested in collecting the ‘Queen Elizabeth II 90th Birthday Commemorative Coin Set’ in honour of Her Majesty The Queen, please check it out on our website HERE.
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Source: London Mint Office