The Queen’s Face Is on a Lot of Money. Now What?

She was the queen of cash. Photo: Simon McGill/Moment Editorial/Getty Images

The end of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign has raised many questions for those of us unfamiliar with the arcane details of the intra-monarchical process. How should multinational food brands respond to her death online? What is going to happen to her corgis? And, of course, what are they going to do with all that money with her face on it?

Despite the late queen’s reported wish that her pets not outlast her, the dogs (and the money) will live on. But in the coming years, replacing her presence on legal tender throughout the Commonwealth will be a chore as countries swap her image with that of her successor and 73-year-old son, King Charles III.

Naturally, the U.K. has the most money adorned with her visage with some 4.5 billion banknotes of Queen Elizabeth cash in circulation. Unlike in the U.S. — where we divvy up which leaders get their faces on currency — in the U.K., the queen is on the face of the penny, two-pence coin, five-pence coin, ten-pence coin, 20-pence coin, 50-pence coin, £1 coin, £2 coin, £5 note, £10 note, £20 note, and £50 note. For such a large project, the Bank of England anticipates that getting all the new money and designs into circulation will take about two years — with notes produced and distributed ahead of the coins. In the interim, the Bank of England announced on Thursday, “Current banknotes featuring the image of Her Majesty The Queen will continue to be legal tender,” and further instruction on the process will be delivered “once the period of mourning has been observed.”

It’s going to be a long process in many of the Commonwealth countries that haven’t severed ties with the crown. In Australia, where the queen is on coins and the $5 bill, the central bank has announced that it will trade out for Charles “in due course,” according to a Reserve Bank of Australia spokesperson. There is no timeline yet for the changeover, though the Royal Australian Mint and Perth Mint have both temporarily stopped producing coins.

Other countries aren’t rushing. While Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that Queen Elizabeth was “one of my favorite people,” the Bank of Canada said a changeover is not automatic. “The current polymer $20 bank note is intended to circulate for years to come. There is no legislative requirement to change the design within a prescribed period when the Monarch changes,” a bank spokesman told Bloomberg. With no legislative requirement to issue new bills, it would be up to Trudeau’s government to give the order.

In New Zealand, a Reserve Bank spokesperson said that it intends to exhaust the current supply of coins and $20 notes before introducing King Charles III currency. The process for the coins will take “several years,” and the queen’s $20 notes will be in circulation for even longer. “We manufacture these notes infrequently and do not plan to destroy stock or shorten the life of existing banknotes just because they show the Queen,” reads the Reserve Bank’s statement. “This would be wasteful and poor environmental practice.”

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The Queen’s Face Is on a Lot of Money. Now What?