King Charles III banknotes enter circulation for the first time

LONDON — Banknotes featuring a portrait of King Charles III entered circulation on Wednesday for the first time, the Bank of England said in a statement.

Charles will be pictured on the front of the £5, £10, £20, and £50 banknotes, and will be seen through the notes’ see-through security window.

Otherwise the notes will remain unchanged in their design. As well as monarchs, banknotes in the U.K. feature historical figures including Winston Churchill, Jane Austen, JMW Turner and Alan Turing.

Images of the notes depicting Charles were first released in December 2022 after Queen Elizabeth II passed away in September of the same year.

Notes featuring Queen Elizabeth II will remain legal tender and will be in circulation alongside those showing Charles, the Bank of England said. The two monarchs are the only ones to be depicted on banknotes, as this tradition only began in 1960.

“The new banknotes will only be printed to replace those that are worn, and to meet any overall increase in demand for banknotes,” the Bank of England said. “This means the public will begin to see the new King Charles III notes very gradually.”

“This is a historic moment, as it’s the first time we’ve changed the sovereign on our notes,” Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said.

People would, however, be able to exchange notes they already have for the new ones featuring Charles. A series of auctions of low-serial numbered notes will be held in the coming months, with proceeds going to charity, the Bank of England said.

Coins showing a portrait of the British king have already entered into circulation. They show him facing the left, in line with a tradition that says the direction of the profile switches for each successive monarch.

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