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.
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.
Top Five Facts about the First Birthday coin:
- This design hasn’t been struck in 54 years.
- This is the first time that a United Kingdom coin has been struck to mark a royal first birthday.
- The coin has been approved by Prince George’s mother and father, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
- 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!
- 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.
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.
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!