Why King Charles III Won’t Replace the Queen on Our $5 Notes

Queen Elizabeth II’s death in September last year prompted a whack of changes. Not just in Britain, but all across the Earth. In Australia, Parliament went into a period of mourning, we got a public holiday to commemorate her death, and our money will eventually be changing.

The Treasury has announced that King Charles III’s face will start appearing on Australian coins this year, in line with past practice. He will face left, as tradition says each new king or queen must alternate the direction of their gaze.

However, Charles won’t be replacing Elizabeth on our $5 notes. Instead, the Reserve Bank will be switching her with a design that will celebrate our First Nations peoples. 

“The Reserve Bank has decided to update the $5 banknote to feature a new design that honours the culture and history of the First Australians. This new design will replace the portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The other side of the $5 banknote will continue to feature the Australian Parliament,” said the organisation in a statement.

“The Bank will consult with First Australians in designing the $5 banknote. The new banknote will take a number of years to be designed and printed. In the meantime, the current $5 banknote will continue to be issued.”

Related: Queen Elizabeth II Has Passed Away Aged 96

Related: Peek All 775 Rooms in Buckingham Palace With This Complete Floorplan

Queen Elizabeth II
Image: Getty Images

Reactions to This Change

Many folks have welcomed the Reserve Bank’s decision to alter the $5 note. Take for instance, Lidia Thorpe, a Greens Senator for Victoria.

Thorpe said, “This is a massive win for the grassroots, First Nations people who have been fighting to decolonise this country. First Nations people never ceded our Sovereignty to any King or Queen, ever.”

However, some people had a melodramatic response to this news. One such person being our Opposition Leader, Peter Dutton, who said; “I think it is another attack on our systems, our society, and institutions.

Related: Australia Might Become a Republic Following the Queen’s Death — Here’s What That Would Mean

Related: What Happens After the Queen Dies? All the Royal Protocols

The History of the Queen’s Face on Money 

Queen Elizabeth II has been on our $5 notes since 1995 and was once on our now-defunct $1 notes. Existing coins and notes showing her effigy will remain in circulation and continue to be legal tender and new money minted during this transition period may also still be produced.

“All Australian banknotes issued from 1913 retain their legal tender status,” a Reserve Bank’s spokesperson told the ABC. “So the currently circulating $5 banknotes would still be able to be used should a new banknote be issued as a result of a change in monarch.”

The Queen has appeared on more currency than any other person in history. Her face has been on coins in 35 countries, including the UK, Canada, New Zealand and, of course, ours. It’s likely these countries and others in the Commonwealth will also adapt their money to reflect the succession.

Coin collectors are speculating on how The Queen’s passing will impact their niche market. Some have warned others to hold onto their rarer or commemorative pieces featuring Elizabeth II as these are likely to increase in value, especially as the new coins come into circulation.

Prince Charles
Image: Getty Images

Moreover, in January 2023, the Royal Australian Mint released a commemorative coin of Elizabeth. This coin is unique for listing the span of her rule.

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.