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Finding King Charles III on British Crowns 35 years before his coronation…

King Charles III - Littleton Coin Blog

On May 6, 2023, the world witnessed an event that hadn’t happened for nearly 70 years – the crowning of a new British monarch, King Charles III. That same year, coins bearing Charles’ image began replacing those featuring his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

But did you know they were not the first British coins to depict Charles?

Back in 1988, I visited England and France on a school trip. We saw Stonehenge and the ancient Roman city of Bath. We attended a medieval banquet, and paid our respects at Omaha Beach – site of World War II’s D-Day invasion.

We toured Paris, Notre Dame and the Louvre. As well as Westminster Abbey, where I saw the tomb of my first cousin (11 times removed), Sir Isaac Newton.

And, of course, Buckingham Palace.

It was an amazing experience, and I picked up quite a few souvenirs. But of all the treasures I acquired, my favorites were three coins I scored in a small shop in London…

Adding British coins to my collection

Like many collectors, I was introduced to collecting by my grandparents when I was young. And by the time I visited England, I had a small but growing coin collection. Mostly Wheat cents, Washington quarters and Franklin halves I’d saved from circulation. But I did have a few foreign coins from my father’s time serving in the U.S. Army.

And I looked forward to adding some British coins to my collection.

Great Britain George VI Collection- Littleton Coin Blog

I didn’t have much spending money to spare, so I planned to save change received when I paid for things during my trip. But all that changed while browsing a small shop in London. There, in a corner, I spied far more interesting coins.

The shop only had a small selection of coins for collectors, about a dozen or so. And most were very much out of my budget.

I was able to buy three big British crowns. All three were special commemorative issues. And two featured Britain’s current monarch, King Charles III. Which was a surprise, since they were minted four decades before he was crowned…

The Wedding of Charles and Diana

Of the three British crowns I purchased, the two depicting Charles bore identical designs. However, one was struck in silver while the other was minted in copper nickel.

These two British Crowns were special issues, struck to commemorate the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana on July 29, 1981. The reverses featured left-facing, side-by-side portraits of the royal couple. While the obverse bore a right-facing and youthful portrait of Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

I found the “three-headed” design quite charming, and kept the silver British crown for myself. The other I gave to a friend, who was not a coin collector, but was a big fan of Princess Diana.

Sadly, I no longer have mine. And I don’t recall when or how it parted ways with my collection.

Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee

Fortunately, I do have the third British Crown I acquired that day. And it just happens to be the oldest of the three coins.

Struck in 1977 in sterling silver, this coin is also a commemorative issue. It was minted in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Because of this, it’s known as the “Silver Jubilee Crown.”

The obverse of this British crown depicts the queen on horseback, which I find a pleasant change from her many portraits that graced British currency during her reign. The date appears below the queen, while encircling the design is the inscription elizabeth ii dg reg fd (“Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith”).

The reverse is also unique, in that it bears no inscription, denomination or lettering. Technically, it has a face value of 25 new pence like other British crowns. But the denomination was omitted due to the coin’s commemorative status.

Instead, the crown’s reverse features an intricate floral pattern surrounding the Imperial Crown (also known as the Crown of Edward), the bird-shaped Ampulla and the anointing spoon used in the coronation ceremony.

It’s a unique and attractive coin. And I wish I’d kept it in better condition.

Alas, but for the mistakes of youth…

Back then, I made a lot of mistakes that hurt the value of my collection. My friends and I often sifted through my coins without wearing gloves to protect them. And instead of safely keeping them in albums or folders, I kept them all together in jars on a shelf.

2023 Great Britain King Charles III Definitives Coin Set - Littleton Coin Blog

Because of this, the lustrous finish of my remaining British Crown has long since worn away. But at least you can still clearly see the design. And it still brings back fond memories of my first real foreign adventure.

A year ago, Littleton Coin Company once carried Uncirculated copper-nickel specimens of the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee British Crown. So while writing this article, I thought I might pick up another in better condition. And I planned to include the link for those of you who might also like one for your own collection.

But unfortunately, their supply was sold out – no doubt scooped up by collectors shortly after King Charles III’s coronation.

Until next time…
Happy Collecting!

This article was written by Len B.

A lifelong writer and collector, Len is a USAF veteran, New Hampshire native and member of the American Numismatic Association.


The Royal Household. “The Coronation of His Majesty the King.” Accessed April 11, 2024.

Westminster Abbey. “Sir Isaac Newton.” Accessed April 11, 2024. 

The BBC. “The Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.” Accessed April 11, 2024.

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