Martin Jennings: Engraver of King Charles III Portrait

Author: Connor Campbell - Bullion & Economics Editor

Published: 3 Oct 2022

Last Updated: 3 Jul 2023


Martin Jennings is responsible for King Charles III's new coinage portrait. It was revealed on Friday 30th September 2022 and will appear on all UK coinage, from 1p up to £2 coins. Engraver, Martin Jennings, is a renowned British sculptor, who has an impressive portfolio of work, working predominantly in bronze and stone.

Martin Jennings

Early Life of Martin Jennings

Jennings was born in 1957. He graduated from the University of Oxford in 1979, where he studied English Literature and Language. Afterwards, Jennings undertook a course in Lettering (1979-80).

He has a successful and decorative career in sculpting statues and, most recently, the King Charles III coinage portrait.

King Charles III Definitive Royal Portrait

Jennings is part of the iconic Royal Society of Sculptors, which was established in 1905, and is located in South Kensington, London. The Royal Society of Sculptors has a selective membership of 700 professional sculptors and promotes their professional standard sculptures to the rest of the UK. 

After the passing of Queen Elizabeth II on 8th September 2022, Jennings sculpted and designed the new King Charles III definitive coinage portrait. The obverse portrait was revealed on Friday 30th September 2022 by the Royal Mint, on the 2022 circulated 50 pence coin.

The Charles III Portrait

Whilst the late Queen Elizabeth II's portrait faced right, Charles’s portrait faces left. Historic tradition has meant that for centuries the direction the monarch faces has switched, with the new king or queen facing the opposite direction of the previous monarch. One king who did not follow the royal tradition was Edward VIII, who refused for his portrait to face right, preferring to face left, like his father King Edward VII.

It's worth noting that Charles's portrait does not wear a crown, just like previous kings before him.

The inscription reads as "CHARLES III • D • G • REX • F • D • 5 POUNDS • 2022" which can be translated as "CHARLES III. BY THE GRACE OF GOD, DEFENDER OF THE FAITH".

King Charles III Crowned Portrait

After Martin Jennings's initial depiction of His Majesty on the UK definitive coinage, he was once again chosen to create the engraved design of the crowned coinage portrait to mark the commemoration of King Charles III's coronation.

The Tudor Crown

The Tudor Crown, referred to as the Crown of Henry VII, stands as an emblem of the Tudor dynasty that governed England from 1485 to 1603. Crafted from gold and embellished with valuable gemstones, it serves as a representation of the authority, opulence, and grandeur attributed to the Tudor monarchs throughout their rule.

Furthermore, the Tudor Crown finds its presence in King Charles' personal Cypher, showcasing a design that was handpicked by the king himself.

Award Winning Work

Unsurprisingly, Martin Jennings has won multiple awards throughout the duration of his sculpting career. His awards include:

  • 2017 Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture (Women of Steel)
  • 2018 Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture (George Orwell)

Famous Sculptures Designed

  • John Betjeman - Famous Poet.
  • Phillip Larkin - Famous Poet.
  • George Orwell - Editor at the Indian service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) during WWII.
  • Charles Dickens - Famous novelist and social critic.
  • Mary Seacole - Battlefield Nurse in the Crimean War.
  • Women Of Steel- Tribute to women who worked in steel factories during both World Wars.
  • Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery London (NPGL)- The NPGL features a bronze bust of prime minster, Sir Edward Heath, and famous author, Philip Pullman.
  • HM Queen Mother- Queen Elizabeth II's mother.
  • Archibald McIndoe- Pioneering plastic surgeon who oversaw the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead during WWII.
  • Stanley Baldwin- Prime Minister of Britain three times between the 1920's and 30's.
  • Plumber's Apprentice- Celebrates the 400th anniversary of the founding of London and the support that was given to plumbing apprentices.
  • John Radcliffe- Renowned physician from Oxford.
  • Ronnie Barker - Actor, comedian and writer that is best known for his role in Two Ronnies.

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