Queen Elizabeth II’s death on Sept. 8 impacted countries beyond just the United Kingdom. She was the head of state in several countries around the globe, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Now, King Charles III holds that title. These countries are all former colonies of the British Empire that have voluntarily retained their connections to the crown after independence.
Since many of these countries have honored their connection to the monarchy by adding the likeness of the queen to their currency, some people have claimed the queen’s death will force these countries to change their money. One tweet with more than 50,000 likes claimed Canada will have to “mint and print a whole bunch of new money because some other country’s queen died.” Queen Elizabeth II currently appears on the Canadian $20 bill and its coins.
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Is Canada required to change its money after Queen Elizabeth II’s death?
No, Canada is not required to change its money after Queen Elizabeth II’s death. It can make the change voluntarily, however.
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Although Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on various Canadian bills and coins over the years, there is no Canadian law that requires that the British monarch appear on the country’s currency or that the money be changed when one dies.
Canadian money comes from two sources: the Bank of Canada, which prints and issues the country’s paper money, and the Royal Canadian Mint, which mints the country’s coins.
In Canada, the standard $20 bill has a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on it. She also appears on one side of all standard Canadian coins.
The Bank of Canada has yet to make a public statement about the future of the bills that feature Queen Elizabeth II’s likeness, or whether the bank will start printing money featuring King Charles III. But the Royal Canadian Mint has posted a statement to its website to assure Canadian citizens that coins currently in circulation are still valid.
“The Royal Canadian Mint wishes to remind consumers and businesses that the royal succession has no impact on coins currently in circulation,” the Royal Canadian Mint said. “A change in Monarch does not require the replacement of circulation coins. Therefore, Canadians consumers and businesses can continue using all coins currently in circulation.”
Even so, the Royal Canadian Mint kept open the possibility that future coins may look different.
“We are working on a plan to issue a variety of coins commemorating Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s lifetime of service as Queen of Canada,” the Royal Canadian Mint said. “The Mint will also support the Government of Canada as it works to determine a new … design for future Canadian coins.”
Canada’s Currency Act, which governs the nation’s production of money, mandates that coins are produced based on the rules in the Royal Canadian Mint Act, and paper money is produced based on the rules in the Bank of Canada Act.
The Royal Canadian Mint Act outlines no requirements for a coin’s design, other than that a circulating coin’s design is determined by Canada’s federal cabinet.
The Bank of Canada Act requires that a bill’s design be approved by the country’s Minister of Finance and that it be printed in both English and French.
There are no other requirements for the design of paper money.
Canadian bills are printed based on design principles the Bank of Canada keeps published on its website. These principles require paper money to reflect Canada and have a broad appeal to Canadians, but say nothing about remaining current with the reigning British monarch.
“The Bank recognizes that in order to design bank notes that have broad appeal and reflect Canada, we need more input from Canadians,” the Bank of Canada says. “Therefore, we will consult more openly and with a larger number of Canadians on the development of visual content for new bank notes (theme, subject matter and images), while applying the criteria developed for the note in question.”
Although there is no requirement that Canada change its currency to reflect the current British monarch, it has in the past.
The Royal Canadian Mint says it has included the likeness of the current reigning monarch on its coins since it started production in 1908. Since then, four monarchs have been featured on the country’s coins: Edward VII, George V, George VI and Elizabeth II.
The Bank of Canada issued its first series of bills in 1935, less than a year before Elizabeth’s grandfather, King George V, died. Elizabeth, at just 8 years old and still a princess, was one of several royal family members to appear on Canada’s first series of bills.
Canada did update its currency in 1937 after George VI became king, but the update was prompted by a new law to make all of Canada’s paper money bilingual. Still, the Bank of Canada took the opportunity to also add George VI’s likeness on all but two denominations of bills.
The country next changed its bills in 1954, a couple of years after Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne. She replaced her father on the country’s paper money, and since then she has appeared on various denominations of bills. Today, the only bill she’s on is the $20 bill.
In the United Kingdom, money will start to feature the likeness of its new monarch, King Charles III. But older money featuring Queen Elizabeth II’s visage will remain valid.