A Crown for Prince George on his first birthday

It was announced earlier this week that The Royal Mint would strike a coin to mark the first birthday of His Royal Highness Prince George on 22 July 2014. This is the first time that a United Kingdom coin has been struck to mark a royal first birthday, and it will be the third time coins have been struck for Prince George. His birth, christening and first birthday have all seen coins struck in celebration – each with a different design.

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The design chosen to mark the first birthday is steeped in royal tradition. It was originally produced in 1953 by Edgar Fuller and Cecil Thomas to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s coronation. It features a cruciform arrangement of the Royal Arms – four shields representing the nations of the United Kingdom arranged in a cross – and is interspersed with the floral emblems of the rose, shamrock, thistle and leek – symbolising the four constituent parts of the UK. Intended for special events, the design has only ever been used twice – Her Majesty’s coronation in 1953 and again for the 1960 crown. It hasn’t been struck for 54 years!

There couldn’t be a more fitting design to strike for Prince George’s birthday, for the Royal Arms are the arms of the monarch, of the Royal Family – and he is destined to inherit them as his own one day.

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Top Five Facts about the First Birthday coin:

  1. This design hasn’t been struck in 54 years.
  2. This is the first time that a United Kingdom coin has been struck to mark a royal first birthday.
  3. The coin has been approved by Prince George’s mother and father, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
  4. 10,000 silver £5 coins were struck to mark his birth, 12,500 for his christening, but only 7,500 silver £5 coins will be struck to mark his first birthday!
  5. This is the third time coins have been struck for Prince George. His birth, christening and first birthday have all now been marked with different designs – All three occasions have been marked with a ‘crown’ coin – a UK £5 coin.

The 1953 Coronation Crown

Although Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne on 6 February 1952. The coins of her reign were not released into circulation until almost a year later, in January 1953. In celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation that year, on 2 June 1953, The Royal Mint struck the first commemorative coin of Queen Elizabeth’s reign – a five-shilling commemorative crown. This is where we first see the reverse design by Edgar Fuller and Cecil Thomas. On its obverse, it featured the portrait of the young queen astride her horse, Winston, and the edge inscription ‘Faith and Truth I will Bear Unto You’ was taken from the Coronation Oath.

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The 1960 Crown

Crowns were once again struck in 1960 featuring the reverse design of the 1953 crown. They featured the new obverse of Queen Elizabeth’s young portrait by the artist and sculptor Mary Gillick. Some 18,000 were exported to the British Exhibition in New York, where, among other British manufacturers, The Royal Mint had a stand on which they were demonstrating coins being struck.

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In total only three commemorative crowns were struck in Queen Elizabeth II’s reign before decimalisation – the 1953 coronation crown, the 1960 crown, and the 1965 Churchill crown – which featured a reverse design that included Churchill’s portrait.

There appear to be no plans to use the design in the near future, so who knows how long we will have to wait before this rather special, timeless design graces a UK coin again!

Announced on The Royal Mint’s Facebook page, more than 50% of the Prince George First Birthday Coin are sold already!

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About Dan Oliver

Daniel is the Social Media & Content Marketing Manager at The Royal Mint. Before joining The Royal Mint in January 2014 Daniel worked in a number of Digital Marketing roles.
  • Bryan Woodriff

    I have been an avid collector of our coins and those from overseas for many years. I enjoy studying the careful artwork and find there is much to talk about if the designer has done something special, as s/he usually does with those made in the Royal Mint. I also have shown and discussed in schools our splendid variety of coins over several reigns which used to be, and some still are, usually found in one’s change or, if the coins were of a higher value and had been given as a gift on a special occasion, they were carefully handled and cared for. So why am I about to grumble? It is because the Royal Mint lately has stopped producing the £5 coin in circulatable condition which it used to do and as it does with all the other coins from 1 penny to £2, all minted in base metal. And so is the current £5 crown but it is now sold ‘in brilliant uncirculated condition’ wrapped in a protective illustrated wrapper at more than two and a half times its face value. Now I don’t mind this happening if the new coin is meant to be a gift, because it does this with all its other minted coins but the difference is that the new crown coins are really no longer ordinary coins, available in ordinary condition, and this makes them very difficult for new and younger potential collectors to possess. The Royal Mint did a splendid job with the 29 Olympics 50 Pence coins. I has now even started to advertise special albums for the young Coin collector but , and it is a big BUT, how on earth are these youngsters going to get a special or even an ‘ordinary’ Crown coin if they cannot be handled as I used to do with the George Crowns and early Elizabethan ones which you still illustrate in your Advertising magazines. My great pride as a young man was to have some ‘Churchill’ crowns – worth all of 5 shillings when it could buy so much more than today’s 25 Pence – and I could go into a shop and spend the crown knowing its face value and what it was worth as a coin of the realm. Money was meant to be handled and looked at and dates checked especially at Christmas to see if you had received the latest new Penny. To conclude, I am so angry that the Royal Mint now seems more interested in making a large profit from the increasing number of new crowns that it is creating and has decided no longer to make them available in circulatable condition as it used to, and just as it does with all the other coins which we use. These expensive so-called coins are not really coins at all any more because no-one in their right mind would try to buy in a shop anything with them, just as people would not expect to use a special silver pound coin or a gold sovereign ( = £1 face value) to make a purchase at the grocer’s. So, please, pretty please, think of your potential collectors who may grow up to be a serious numismatist like I consider myself to be in the eighth decade of my life.

  • Amy

    We’ve just received our 2014 George’s 1st Birthday coins and the obverse design is different to the one advertised (it doesn’t have 2014 on it). Do you know if the image on the website is wrong, or if it’s a mule?