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What happens to our cash now that Queen Elizabeth II has passed?

9th September 2022


The end of an era. What happens now?


We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother.
- King Charles III

As you have probably already heard, Queen Elizabeth II passed away peacefully in her Scottish estate last night, bringing the second Elizabethan era to a close.

Queen Elizabeth II was the UK’s longest serving monarch, having just celebrated her Platinum Jubilee – commemorating 70 years of queendom and a reign that spanned 15 prime ministers. She was sovereign when Winston Churchill headed the government, to the recent election of Liz Truss, and her many years on the throne was one of the few constants in an everchanging world.

To put it in perspective, when she ascended the throne in 1952, colour tv had only just hit the market. No person had yet set foot on the moon, and Elvis was at his prime. She was Queen throughout the rise of the Walkman, the Discman, the iPod Shuffle, the Nintendo Gameboy, Wii Fit, and all the way to the new Gen Z dynasty of TikTokkers and meme-makers.

Queen Elizabeth II is also a world record holder: her face is on more money than any other person in history.

So, what happens now?

Operation Unicorn: What exactly is going on?


Operation London Bridge details plans for the event that the monarch passes away in England (“London Bridge is down” is the code phrase for the Queen’s passing), while Operation Unicorn is the plan for what happens if Queen Elizabeth dies in Scotland (due to the unicorn being Scotland’s national animal). 

As it unfolded, Queen Elizabeth II passed away aged 96 in her favourite Scottish residence Balmoral. 

Following Operation Unicorn protocol, Queen’s body will be transported from north-east Scotland to Alberdeen, put on the Royal Train to Edinburgh to stay in the medieval palace Holyrood house for a day, then up the Royal Mile to St Gile’s Cathedral near Edinburgh Castle. Mourners will pay respects along the route. Then, following the Scottish ceremonies, the Queen will take a final trip to London. 

Once she crosses the border, Operation London Bridge will commence, with the Queen resting in Buckingham Palace’s throne room, then to Westminster Hall. Then, she will be carried to Westminster Abbey. At 11AM, about ten days after the Queen’s death, Big Ben will ring, and the funeral precession will begin. There will be silence, and world will say farewell to the longest reigning monarch since Louis XIV of France.

As of today, King Charles III will take the “reigns” – issuing his first statement as His Majesty the King. There will soon be a Proclamation of the King held by the Accession Council, and Charles will be proclaimed King by the Garter King of Arms – beginning his kingly duties the following day. His official coronation will most likely be held within a year.

Life after Queen Elizabeth: What will change?


>> UK Passports: Currently, all UK passports are inscribed with Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary. The pronouns will change to He/His Majesty as Queen Elizabeth’s son, King Charles III, ascends the throne.

>> Australian and Canadian Passports: Both Australia and Canada also mention the Queen on our passports, so that will also change. If you’re curious, our current Aussie passport reads as follows: The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, being the representative in Australia of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, requests all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer, an Australian Citizen, to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford him or her every assistance and protection of which he or her may stand in need.

>> The British National Anthem: God Save the Queen will become God Save the King.

>> Queen’s English: Received pronunciation, the poshest of all English, will now become King’s English and King Charles III’s tonality will become the new aspiration.

>> Police helmets and Post-boxes: The insignia will change from the EIIR royal cypher for Elizabeth II Regina to a new one for King Charles III. 

>> Lawmakers and Lawbreakers: Senior lawyers known as Queens Counsel (QC) will now referred to as Kings Counsel (KC). In fact, a lot of the wording around all things law-related will change – Queen’s pardon, state openings for parliament, Queen’s shilling military sign-up, Queen’s Guard, and more. In Australia, military buttons will also change to feature the new insignia.

And, of course, money.

Heads or tails? The changing face of currency.


The Royals might be from (very) Old Money, but it’s the new coins and notes they grace the face of. Queen Elizabeth II appears on the most currencies in history, with her effigy featured on the coins of 33 countries and notes of 35 countries over her time. 

So what happens now?

When it comes to the Great British Pound (GBP), King Charles III has already sat for his portrait, and once a version is chosen, new currency bearing his image (facing left, the opposite direction to Queen Elizabeth, as per tradition) will slowly and surely enter circulation. Don’t worry – money with the late Queen’s image will still be legal tender.

Other countries bearing her face on their currencies include the Bahamas (BSD), Belize (BZD), Cayman Islands (KYD), Antigua and Barbuda with their East Caribbean Dollars (XCD), Solomon Islands (SBD), Isle of Man (IMP), States of Jersey (JEP) and Gibraltar (GIP).

What about Canada and New Zealand?

Did you know the Queen first appeared on Canada’s $20 banknote when she was just an eight-year-old princess? 

The Royal Canadian Mint says it will “abide by the decision and timetable” of the federal government on when it will transition to money featuring King Charles III. All notes and coins featuring the Queen are still fine to be used and will be for years to come. And the notes will still smell like maple syrup.

Similarly, the New Zealand Dollar (NZD), will slowly transition to having the new King’s imagery on their currency, though they’re not in any rush. All their money featuring the late Queen will also remain legal tender.

… And Australia?

Well, as it stands at the present, we’re part of the Commonwealth, so like our Canadian and New Zealand friends our coins will eventually switch from heads depicting Queen Elizabeth facing right to King Charles facing left. The monarchy actually only features on our lowest denomination note – the fiver – so it’s assumed that the five dollar note will eventually transition to King Charles III as well.

But what if we ditch the crown?

There is chatter that Australia might hold another referendum on whether we stay part of the Commonwealth or become a republic. The last referendum was 20 years ago, and the Australian Republic Movement (ARM) earlier this year unveiled a proposal for transitioning to a republic model. Now that Queen Elizabeth has passed, there may be renewed interest in the discussion, but only time will tell whether the chatter becomes more than a buzz, and it’s a coinflip on what the outcome would be. 

Besides, this referendum will have to be added to the queue – first and foremost is the referendum for providing a First Nations voice to parliament, which is indicated to take place in 2023.

What would a crownless currency look like?

However, in the case that we did become independent of the crown, then our currency might change from representing the Queen/King to featuring native Australian fauna, flora and landmarks as it did in Bermuda and Fiji when they changed their banknotes from featuring the Queen to depicting tropical paradise. Alternatively, it could feature a prominent First Nations figure, or other people of note from Australia.

So if all the currencies are changing, will my old coins and notes be worth millions?


Granted, I don’t watch all that much Antiques Road Show, but one thing it has taught me is that the value lies in the rarity and scarcity of the item. Unfortunately for the common notes, they’re, well, common. There’s a billion of them in circulation, so they’re not quite at that mark.

But collectors? You might be onto something.

Commemorative coins will likely rise in value – the purple-striped $2 coin minted for her 60th anniversary are worth about $350AUD at the moment. If you managed to swipe a special edition coin from this year’s  Platinum Jubilee, it’s worth about $1025AUD. Rarer still, due to a printing error, there’s a double-headed five cent coin featuring the Queen on both sides of the coin, which is worth between $3000 and $5000AUD, and this might rise again since the Queen’s passing.

A Lasting Legacy.


No matter what happens next, the Commonwealth won't be the same without Queen Elizabeth.


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