(NEXSTAR) – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II died Thursday afternoon at her estate in Scotland, following a reign lasting over 70 years.
“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” Buckingham Palace announced Thursday. “The King and Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
The king and queen consort, as mentioned in the palace’s announcement, refer to Britain’s newest monarch, King Charles III, and his wife Camilla.
But despite the immediate ascension of a new monarch, reminders of Elizabeth’s reign — including postage stamps, the royal cipher (a monogram-like design emblazoned on government buildings, documents, and post boxes), and even mentions of her name in popular songs, like the national anthem (which, technically, has already reverted to “God Save the King”) — will persist well beyond her death.
The Bank of England’s banknotes, too, currently feature portraits of Elizabeth on the obverse of each bill. In fact, Elizabeth was the first monarch to have her face on the banknotes, beginning with the release of the Bank of England’s Series C notes in 1960.
For more than 60 years, and through several revisions and issues, Elizabeth’s portrait, facing left, has appeared on the front of the bills, with portraits of other prominent British historical figures on the reverse — a different figure for each bill. Elizabeth’s face also appears as a watermark, albeit smaller, on the left of the notes.
But tradition stipulates that this, too, could soon change, as new banknotes in an upcoming series may feature Charles’ likeness instead. But the Bank of England has yet to announce plans for such a change, only saying that a future announcement on “existing” banknotes is forthcoming, per a statement released shortly after the queen’s passing.
If indeed the bank decides on a new series of notes featuring Charles, those bills may take years to become commonplace, according to The Guardian, which estimates there are currently 4.5 billion pounds sterling (in banknotes and coinage) featuring Elizabeth’s likeness in circulation.
Coinage in the U.K. monetary system, meanwhile, has long featured the ruling monarch’s face, and the British Monarchy has made no indication that the Royal Mint (which is in charge of coinage) would interrupt tradition. They did note, however, that each subsequent monarch is depicted facing the opposite direction of their predecessor, meaning any coins with Charles’ likeness would likely face to the left. (Elizabeth’s likeness on coinage faces to the right.) There was one relatively recent exception in King Edward VIII, who preferred “portraits of himself facing to the left,” according to Royal.uk.
It’s unclear if money featuring Elizabeth’s likeness will cease to be printed/minted, or even slow, in the coming months. The Bank of England is declining to comment on plans for upcoming notes, saying only that “a further announcement regarding existing Bank of England banknotes will be made once the period of mourning has been observed.”
“As the first monarch to feature on Bank of England banknotes, the Queen’s iconic portraits are synonymous with some of the most important work we do,” reads a portion of the bank’s Thursday news release. “Current banknotes featuring the image of Her Majesty The Queen will continue to be legal tender.”