Cash, stamps and flags: how royal symbols will now change | The Queen


OWhen George VI died in his sleep at Sandringham in the early hours of February 6, 1952, his eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth, then visiting Kenya with her husband, immediately became Queen Elizabeth II.

“The same simultaneous process will occur on the death of Queen Elizabeth and the accession to the throne of King Charles III,” Robert Blackburn, professor of constitutional law at King’s College London, told parliament.

However, after the Queen’s record reign, separating her name, image and iconography from the fabric of national life in the UK and across the Commonwealth will take much longer. These are some of the things that will have to change.


From flags flying outside police stations across the UK to the standard used on a navy ship when a general is on board, thousands of flags displaying EIIR will need to be replaced. Military regiments wear the “Queen’s Colours”, many of which are studded with a gold-embroidered EIIR; the fire department ensign includes her initials and the countries where the Queen remains head of state, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand, have what flag experts call ‘E-flags’ – flags personal items for the Queen which are used during her visit.

The royal standard. Photography: Stocksolutions/Alamy

It’s possible the royal standard – the quartered flag that flies wherever the monarch is in residence – could also change. The version used by the Queen has one quarter representing Scotland (a lion rampant), one for Ireland (a harp) and two representing England (three lions passerby), but none for Wales. It was used long before Wales had its own national flag, recognized in 1959. The next monarch may incorporate a Welsh element.

Banknotes and coins

There are 4.5 billion sterling banknotes in circulation with the Queen’s face on them, with a total value of £80 billion. Replacing them with alternatives featuring the leader of the new monarch should take at least two years. When the last synthetic £50 notes were issued, the recall and replacement process took the Bank of England 16 months. When the Queen came to the throne in 1952, the monarch did not appear on banknotes. This changed in 1960 when the face of Elizabeth II began to appear on £1 notes in an image created by banknote designer Robert Austin, which some criticized as too harsh. An image of the new monarch would be agreed with Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s head also appears on $20 banknotes in Canada, on coins in New Zealand, and on all coins and notes issued by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, as well as other parts of the Commonwealth.

Coin designs may change more slowly than banknote changes.
Coin designs may change more slowly than banknote changes. Photograph: Malcolm Haines/Alamy

Coin models can be changed more slowly if historical precedent is followed: it was common to have different monarchs in your wallet because coin switching was done organically rather than by recall.

National anthem

One of the simplest changes, in theory, will be to change the lyrics of the national anthem from “God save our graceful Queen” to “God save our graceful King” – although it may take some time before big crowds sing the new version with confidence. . The anthem has been in use since 1745 when an early version ran: “God save great George our king, Long live our noble king, God save the king”.


The Queen was the “defender of the faith and supreme governor” of the Church of England, and there are prayers for her in the Book of Common Prayer, which dates from 1662. God is asked to “fill her with the grace of your Holy Spirit, so that it always inclines towards your will and walks in your way”. These should be changed to prayers for the new monarch. This must be done by statute or royal warrant and was last done after the death of the Queen Mother. Priests can also modify the prayer for temporary use, meaning prayers for the monarch that are commonly said in Sunday services and evening chants can quickly be adapted to the new defender of the faith.

In the Holy Communion services contained in Common Worship, there is a “Collect” for the Sovereign who asks God to “govern the heart of Thy chosen handmaiden Elizabeth, our Queen and Governor, that she may par- above all seek your honor and your glory. ”. This can be changed by the General Synod.

Royal arms

The familiar royal coat of arms, which features a lion and a unicorn rampant against a shield, is widely used on government premises and stationery, and any changes would be costly, but may not be necessary. This is expected to change should the new monarch decide to depict Wales on the shield in accordance with any changes to the royal standard.

Royal warrants

From the Angostura bitters company in Trinidad and Tobago to Sussex farrier Zack Treliving, the Queen’s royal warrant currently applies to more than 600 companies that are used to supplying the royal household. Brands enjoying the use of the Queen’s Arms in their marketing materials include Steinway Pianos, Jordans Cereals, Gordon’s Gin and Swarovski jewellers, as well as plumbers, fence makers, sound engineers, trimmers- hedgerows and millers. After the Queen’s death, they risk losing their status unless they receive a new warrant from her successor or another member of the Royal Family who becomes a grantor – potentially a new Prince of Wales. It may not happen quickly. When Prince Philip died, his royal warrant holders received two years of grace. A new monarch could decide to adjust the criteria for becoming a royal warrant holder, such as putting more emphasis on sustainability.

PO boxes and stamps

A postbox on Regent Street, London.
A postbox on Regent Street, London. Photography: Design Pics/Alamy

Royal Mail letterboxes bearing Queen Elizabeth’s royal cipher, ER, are unlikely to be removed. Some with the GR cipher of King George VI are still in use today, 70 years later. The post office, however, will change stamps, with a profile picture of the new monarch used.

Pledges of allegiance

MPs are not allowed to sit in the House of Commons, speak in debates, vote or receive a salary unless they pledge allegiance to the Crown. Since 1952, the wording has read: “I (name of MP) swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.

Deputies and peers will have to take a new oath to his successor. New British citizens are also being asked to swear to “bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors”, and the Home Office is likely to change this. Cubs and scouts promise to “do my duty to the Queen” while new members of the armed forces swear “to be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors”.


Queen Elizabeth II in her own words – video obituary

The Queen’s death is a precarious moment for some of the British Commonwealth realms, 14 of which recognize the monarch as their head of state. In many cases, their constitutions state that the queen, in particular, is the head of state. In these countries, the constitutions will have to be amended to refer to his successor. In countries like Jamaica, where there is a strong republican movement, and Belize, these constitutional changes will also require a referendum, according to Commonwealth experts. This should bring a moment of political peril for the new monarch, who, after Barbados becomes a republic in 2021, could face the loss of another major part of the Caribbean Commonwealth.

Questions are also likely to arise in countries such as Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as to whether the new monarch could legally appoint a governor-general, whether the relevant country’s constitution has not been amended to refer to the king, and continues to refer to the queen as as head of state.

The Queen’s name is also stitched into a myriad of other laws that will need overhauling, a process that is neither easy nor cheap, especially for smaller countries that do not employ their own legislative drafters.

Among the constitutional monarchies, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have put in place measures for the new monarch to automatically become head of state.

This article was amended on September 8, 2022 to refer to Jamaica having a strong republican movement, rather than the “independence movement” as an earlier version put it, and Barbados becoming a republic (rather than ” independent”) in 2021. The countries became independent in 1962 and 1966 respectively.

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