It is not unusual to find portraits of political figures, monarchs, or influential people on banknotes all over the world. US currency has featured American president’s portraits for over 150 years. Brunei has been showcasing different Sultans since 1967. In 1996 India decided to honor Mahatma Gandhi by placing him on their rupees.
I found myself thinking about all these different people who have graced banknotes from all over this world from Shmuel Yosef Agnon a Nobel Prize winner on Israel’s note, to Nelson Mandela on the South African series, even Saddam Hussein on Iraq’s currency. There are too many people to list, but while I was looking through my notes I noticed one person widely featured. Any guesses? You probably got it, Queen Elizabeth II.
Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on banknotes from over thirty countries! The first banknote issued was by Canada on March 11, 1935 when she was only eight years old (see photo below)! The second time her portrait was released on a banknote was also by Canada in 1954 of the queen at twenty-five years old. I think it is interesting to note that even though Elizabeth II ascended the throne in 1952, becoming queen – it wasn’t until 1960 that her portrait first appeared on British Banknotes (eight years later). In total there have been twenty-six different portraits on different banknotes of Queen Elizabeth.
With so many different portraits and options for countries to choose from I think it is interesting to see how each country chooses to portray The Queen. On some banknotes she is very formal, adorned with jewelry and her crown, and in others she looks very informal with no crown on at all. Two countries that seem to adopt the more informal looking portraits are Canada and Australia, whereas most other counties opt for the regal and formal Queen Elizabeth II.
The most popular picture of the Queen, that has been used by 15 different countries is a younger portrait from 1952 where she is shown wearing a Diadem containing 1,333 diamonds. Such countries that used this portrait were: Bermuda, Hong Kong, Fiji, and Cyprus to name a few. I believe the second most popular picture to be found on a banknote would be from Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. Nine countries produced notes with this picture on it, including New Zealand, Isle of Man, Belize, and Bermuda. There were also nine countries to use a portrait from 1955 where Queen Elizabeth II is more informal with no crown on at all (see below).
I also find it interesting to note that the country to most frequently issue currency bearing Queen Elizabeth’s picture is… any guesses? Fiji! Totaling six different pictures, followed by the Bank of England, Bermuda, and Canada that all have issued five. If you’ve not read my blog about Fiji’s recent removal of the English Monarch from their currency you should check it out, kind of makes this a little more interesting.
I think learning more about the history of all these notes makes them so much more special, I sure hope you agree. I also thank you for taking the time to read these blogs and if you have any questions or comments I look forward to hearing from you.