What will happen to your banknotes featuring the late Queen?

King Charles was presented with the first editions of the new £5, £10, £20 and £50 banknotes featuring his portrait today at Buckingham Palace.

It was a milestone moment for the monarch, who is undergoing treatment for an undisclosed cancer, and marks one of the last major steps of his transition to King, with new stamps and coins already in circulation. The Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey presented the King with a leather-bound booklet containing the first edition historic legal tender.

It follows tradition for the monarch to receive the first issues of new banknotes with 01 000001 serial numbers. King Charles is only the second British monarch to grace the Bank of England’s notes, making it the first time one sovereign’s image has been replaced with another.

The engraving of King Charles on the new polymer notes is based on a picture taken in 2013. One subtle difference some may not notice is that unlike the late Queen in the banknotes from her reign, King Charles is not wearing a crown.

The King and Mr Bailey were joined by Sarah John, the Bank of England’s Chief Cashier, whose signature appears on the currency. The King inspected the notes and praised the intricate features incorporated to prevent counterfeits, saying: ‘A lot trouble taken in on the security side.’

The money will be issued gradually into circulation from June 5 – with Charles’s portrait featuring on the front of the banknotes, as well as in cameo in the see-through security window, visible on the front and back. The reverse side characters remain unchanged from previous editions – with Sir Winston Churchill on the £5, Jane Austen on the £10, JMW Turner on the £20 and Alan Turing on the £50.

Charles expressed his admiration of the artistry, saying of the £5: ‘It’s a very good photograph of Sir Winston.’ Existing notes featuring the portrait of the late Queen will continue to be legal tender, so the Elizabeth II and King Charles III notes will co-circulate.

New notes will only be printed to replace worn-out ones and to meet any overall increase in demand in order to minimise the environmental and financial impact of the change – in keeping with the Royal Household’s request.

This gradual change coupled with a general public leaning towards cashless payments means that it could be months after the new notes launch on June 5 that some people even see them in circulation.

The Bank of England began printing the new banknotes last year to give enough time for automated machines that accept cash to be updated to recognise the new tender.

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