King Charles banknotes to enter circulation in June

New banknotes featuring the King will be introduced on 5 June – here’s what they will look like and what will happen to your banknotes featuring the late Queen.

Production of the new King Charles III £10 note
(Image credit: Bank of England)

Banknotes featuring King Charles are to enter circulation this June, the Bank of England has revealed. 

The new £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes will be released on 5 June. Coins featuring the King, as well as stamps, are already in circulation.

Yesterday (9 April) the Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey and Sarah John, the Bank of England's chief cashier, visited Buckingham Palace to present the King with a leather-bound booklet containing the banknotes featuring his portrait.

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It follows tradition for the monarch to receive the first issues of new banknotes with 01 000001 serial numbers.

Bailey told the King it was a "big moment" as previously only his mother Queen Elizabeth II had appeared on British banknotes.

The King praised the notes as "very well designed".

We reveal what the new polymer notes will look like, and whether you will still be able to use notes featuring Queen Elizabeth II.

King Charles III Is Presented With First Bank Notes Featuring His Portrait

King Charles III is presented with the first banknotes featuring his portrait from the Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey and Sarah John, the Bank of England's chief cashier

(Image credit: Getty Images)

King Charles III banknotes: what’s changing? 

All four banknotes (£5, £10, £20 and £50) will be updated to include a portrait of King Charles III. Images of the new banknotes were released by the Bank of England on 20 December 2022.

In line with previous designs, the King will feature on the front of the note and in the see-through security window. 

Other than the King’s portrait replacing the image of the late Queen, there will be no changes to the existing designs. 

The existing historical figures will continue to feature on the back:

  • £5 note: Former prime minister Winston Churchill has featured on the back of the £5 note since 2016. He replaced Elizabeth Fry, a Victorian prison reformer.
  • £10 note: Early nineteenth century author Jane Austen has featured on the £10 note since 2017. She replaced Charles Darwin, a key figure in developing the theory of evolutionary biology.
  • £20 note: Early nineteenth century artist J. M. W. Turner has featured on the £20 note since 2020. He replaced Adam Smith, an economist and philosopher during the Scottish Enlightenment.
  • £50 note: Alan Turing, the mathematician who was key to cracking the Enigma code, has featured on the £50 note since 2021. He replaced Matthew Boulton and James Watt, two key figures of the Industrial Revolution who helped to develop the steam engine.

There is currently only one woman, Jane Austen, on the back of banknotes, and MoneyWeek has called on the Bank of England to feature more women.

Our analysis shows that since the Bank started featuring historical figures in 1970, we have only seen three women, yet 16 men have featured.

Do I need to do anything with old Elizabeth II banknotes? 

Old notes featuring Queen Elizabeth II will remain legal tender, and will continue to circulate alongside the new notes featuring Charles III. 

The new Charles III notes will enter circulation gradually, being printed to replace existing notes that are worn. They will also be printed to meet any increase in demand for banknotes. 

“Our approach is in line with guidance from the Royal Household, to minimise the environmental and financial impact of this change”, the Bank of England explains.

So, in other words, there’s nothing for you to do just yet. 

You can continue to use any existing notes as long as they’re polymer ones, and not the old paper ones. 

But what if you’re a currency enthusiast, or someone who is keen to get your hands on one of the new notes as soon as possible? 

Well, for a short period from 5 June, the Bank of England will allow you to exchange some of the old notes for new ones, up to a limited value. 

It says it will release further details nearer the time.

Meanwhile, the Bank has also confirmed that low serial numbered notes will be auctioned off for charity. These notes are particularly popular with collectors. The auctions will take place at Spink and Son over the summer. 

Arnas Savickas, global coordinator of banknotes at Spink, said that "the collector and enthusiast markets are anticipating that this will be one of the biggest charity auctions held for the Bank of England".

Can I still use old paper banknotes? 

If you’re still hanging on to old £20, £50 or other paper banknotes, then you do need to take action if you want to spend them. 

Paper £5 notes were the first to be taken out of use. They stopped being legal tender on 5 May 2017. Paper £10 notes followed shortly after on 1 March 2018, with £20 and £50 notes finally following on 30 September 2022.

Despite this, there are an enormous amount of old notes still in circulation. But, if you come across one when rifling around in an old coat pocket, fear not. You will be able to exchange it for a new one.

Depending on the age of the note, you may be able to exchange it at the Post Office or at your high-street bank – although not all of them offer this service. Otherwise, the Bank of England will exchange them for you. There is currently no cut-off date for this service. 

See our article on how to exchange your old notes.

Katie Williams

Katie has a background in investment writing and is interested in everything to do with personal finance and financial news. 

Before joining MoneyWeek, she worked as a content writer at Invesco, a global asset management firm, which she joined as a graduate in 2019. While there, she enjoyed translating complex topics into “easy to understand” stories. 

She studied English at the University of Cambridge and loves reading, writing and going to the theatre.