A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on Canadian coins since 1953, a year after she came to the throne. Her Majesty started appearing on Canada paper money even before that, as a young member of the royal family (but not, at that point, an heir to the throne) on the first series of bills in 1935.
For decades, the Royal Canadian Mint has issued coins commemorating certain landmark events in Her Majesty’s life, including one for her Platinum Jubilee in 2022, that Canadians could purchase and keep as keepsakes.
Now that Queen Elizabeth has died, Canadians probably wonder whether her portrait will remain on Canadian bank notes and coins or whether an image of her successor, King Charles III, will replace her.
Does Canadian Money Have To Bear a Portrait of the Reigning Monarch?
Canada has a law called the Currency Act that governs money production. The Currency Act states that paper money has to comply with rules set forth in the Bank of Canada Act and coins have to comply with the rules of the Royal Canadian Mint Act. Neither of these acts has any requirement stating that either Canadian coins or paper money have to feature a portrait of the reigning monarch. In fact, for decades, most Canadian bank notes did not bear a portrait of Queen Elizabeth; in most paper money series, she appeared only on the $20 bill.
Is Money Featuring Queen Elizabeth Still Considered Legal Tender?
The Royal Canadian Mint provided a statement on its website affirming that the change of monarch does not affect the validity of current circulation coins and that Canadian businesses and individuals can continue using them as before. The statement reiterates that there is no requirement to change the coins following a change in monarch. As for the Bank of Canada, it stated to a national publication that it intended to continue circulating the current $20 polymer bank notes featuring Queen Elizabeth for many more years to come.
Note that circulation coins are different from commemorative coins, such as the one issued in 2013 to celebrate the anniversary of Her Majesty’s coronation (though these also retain their face value).
Will King Charles Eventually Replace Queen Elizabeth on Canadian Coins and Canadian Bank Notes?
Ultimately, it is not the Royal Canadian Mint that decides on new coin designs but Canada’s federal cabinet. The RCM has acknowledged that it is waiting for the cabinet to make its decision and is ready to implement the change once the decision is made.
The requirements for paper money are only that it has to be printed in French as well as English and that the Minister of Finance has to approve the design. The Bank of Canada does also maintain design principles for paper money that, though not legally binding, it tries to adhere to. These principles do not mention the inclusion of the current reigning monarch, but they do say that the design should have broad appeal to Canadians and reflect something about the country.
Though the Bank of Canada has yet to make any formal announcement of any planned design changes, it is entirely possible that the bank could someday decide to include King Charles’ portrait on one denomination of paper money while retaining Queen Elizabeth’s portrait on another.
Find Collectible Canada Paper Money and Coins at Colonial Acres
For many Canadians, Queen Elizabeth II had been the only monarch they had ever known. Therefore, some may not be in a hurry to change the currency to reflect the royal succession because having coins with her face in her pocket may help them hold on to the memory. You can find collectible circulation coins, as well as special coins commemorating significant events in the Queen’s life, at Colonial Acres.