The First King Charles III Definitive Coin Designs Are Revealed!

Author: Connor Campbell - Bullion & Economics Editor

Published: 20 Oct 2023

Last Updated: 23 Oct 2023


The Royal Mint has released the 2023 King Charles III Definitive Annual - 8 Coin Sets, featuring new reverse designs for the first time in 15 years! These coins showcase King Charles III's uncrowned portrait and a Tudor crown privy mark. The coins focus on wildlife conservation, with designs representing the UK's endangered animals and plants.

The First King Charles III UK Definitive Annual Coins

The Royal Mint has released its first set of definitive UK coins during King Charles III's reign with the 2023 King Charles III Definitive Annual - 8 Coin Sets. These annual sets introduce eight new reverse designs for the first time in 15 years and are now available for pre-order at Chards.

Additionally, the 'uncrowned portrait' of King Charles III, engraved by Martin Jennings, graces the obverse side of all the definitive coins in these sets. All subsequent UK definitive coinage, from the 1 penny to the £2 coin, will feature these designs which were hand-selected by the King himself.

Transitioning from the Royal Shield of Arms design introduced by the Royal Mint in 2008 marks a significant change. This design required six UK definitive coins from the 1 penny to the 50p coin, with each displaying a segment of the Royal Shield of Arms. When collected together, they formed the complete shield, while the £1 coin showcased the entire design. This design was in use until the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September 2022.

Special King Charles III Privy Mark 

The obverse of each of these coins features a Tudor crown privy mark, which contributes to the completion of the King's cypher used in the Royal Arms and more.

All reverse designs of the 2023 KCIII definitive coins

New UK Definitives Reverse Designs

King Charles III Pledges to Wildlife Conservation

For the new UK definitive coinage range, The Royal Mint team of engravers collaborated with King Charles III to best represent the nation. The King expressed a desire for reverse designs centred on 'wildlife conservation', highlighting some of the UK's most endangered animals and plants symbolising the four nations of the UK. 

It's worth noting that wildlife conservation is a significant passion for King Charles III. He has been a dedicated patron of The Wildlife Trust for nearly five decades, having joined in 1977, and played an instrumental role in the coin design process.

According to The Royal Mint, nearly 300 reverse designs were crafted by around 70 talented artists. These designs were then presented to The Royal Mint Advisory Committee (RMAC) to select the most fitting designs for King Charles III. The final designs were chosen from artists including Cecil Thomas, Edgar Fuller, Gilbert Ledward, and William Gardner. (Source)

An endangered puffin on a hillside looking towards the sea.

Floral Emblems £2 Coin 

The Definitive UK £2 coin features the floral emblems representing each nation of Great Britain: the English rose, the Scottish thistle, the Welsh daffodil, and the Irish clover. Upon closer inspection, an edge inscription in Latin, "IN SERVITIO OMNIUM", can be observed, which translates to "In the service of all" in English.

Floral emblems of the four nations two pound coin

Floral Emblems Two Pound Coin

Bee £1 Coin 

Today, the United Kingdom is home to over 250 bee species, including the well-known bumblebee, which is now featured on the Definitive UK £1 coin. Despite being one of the most misunderstood creatures, often feared by the public, bees play a vital role in our ecosystem. They pollinate plants and trees that bear fruit and can be found in various locations, from parks and gardens to wildflower meadows.

Two bees with wings fully extended one pound coin

Bee One Pound Coin

Atlantic Salmon 50p Coin

The Atlantic salmon is a migratory fish native to North Atlantic waters, renowned for its remarkable spawning journey and commercial value. Nevertheless, humans have pushed this incredible fish to the brink of extinction through overfishing, river pollution, and their contribution to global warming. Therefore, the salmon has been chosen to be highlighted on the UK definitive 50p coin to draw attention to its situation. These animals can be observed in rivers situated across Scotland, Wales, North and South-West England.

Salmon jumping out of the sea 50 pence coin

Atlantic Salmon 50 Pence Coin

Puffin Bird 20p Coin

The magnificent puffin bird has been chosen for the UK 20p definitive coin because it is known to breed alongside the UK's coastline, which currently hosts approximately 10% of the total population. Classified as "Vulnerable" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, puffins in the United Kingdom are indeed facing conservation concerns. These concerns arise due to various factors, including habitat degradation, changes in prey availability, and the impacts of climate change.

Puffin bird with wings stretched out 20 pence coin

Puffin Bird 20 Pence Coin

Capercaillie 10p Coin

These capercaillie animals have been chosen to appear on the UK definitive 10p coin. They are a type of woodland grouse found in Scotland and are the largest of their kind in the world. However, the remaining capercaillie birds, despite their impressive size, are fragile, and they are classified as 'Critically Endangered' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in the UK.

Capercaillie 10 Pence Coin

Oak Tree Leaf 5p Coin

This 5p coin depicts a leaf from the oak tree, renowned for its role in supporting life in the UK, as it goes through seasonal cycles of growth and leaf shedding, symbolising the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. In certain cultures, oak trees are linked to wisdom and knowledge. The Druids, an ancient Celtic religious group, held the oak tree in high esteem, believing it possessed mystical qualities and symbolised the pursuit of wisdom.

Oak Tree Leaf 5 Pence Coin

Red Squirrel 2p Coin

The red squirrel was chosen to be featured on the UK definitive 2p coin because its reddish colour aligns with the copper colour of the 2 pence coin. Additionally, this animal was selected because its population has become dangerously close to extinction.

Red Squirrel Leaf 2 Pence Coin

Dormouse 1 Penny

The last coin in the UK definitive coin range is the 1 penny coin, featuring a delicate dormouse snuggled up in sleep. This animal is a suitable choice for the small 1 penny coin due to its size. Today, it has been reported that the hazel dormouse population has declined by an alarming 50% since 2007.

Dormouse 1 Penny Coin

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