Behind the design: Her Majesty The Queen’s Sapphire Coronation 5oz and Kilo

In June 1953, Her Majesty The Queen was crowned in a ceremony that linked centuries of tradition with changing times. The young Queen Elizabeth II represented a renewed hope for a bright future and the start of a new chapter for Britain. The nation came out in force to celebrate and thousands lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the procession.

Throughout her reign, The Queen has given the nation so many special moments and milestones to celebrate, and we have been proud to have been there for every anniversary and many other happy occasions. Now, as Her Majesty The Queen reaches another milestone, we mark the moment with two coin designs that celebrate the Sapphire Coronation. We recently caught up with Dominique Evans, designer of the Coronation 5oz and Kilo to find out a little more about her design.

Hi Dominique, tell us a little bit about yourself…

Hi, my name is Dominique Evans, a Graphic Designer within The Royal Mint Design Team.

From a very early age, I would be making and creating. Asking my family for more glue, more paper, and string … not sure why the string, yet, pens and pencils were never a problem, I had loads of them. Managing to fill my parents’ and grandparents’ homes to the rafters with drawn on paper. At the age of 18, I studied an Art Foundation Course in Newport, that truly cemented the idea in my mind that this, this arty thing, was what I wanted to do.

 From there I headed to the fresh air and eclectic mix of Brighton to study at Brighton University. Luckily, my course taught me to pull from so many areas during the creative process and I have always managed to work across a diverse variety of disciplines. I have always believed that keeping those creative doors open and allowing cross-over really does feed new ideas and exciting projects.

How did your journey with The Royal Mint begin?

I have worked at The Royal Mint as a designer for over 13 years, and even before then I worked at an agency in Cardiff that worked for The Royal Mint. In all, The Royal Mint has come to have a large place in my life and my heart for nearly 20 years.

How does coin design differ from your other work?

My graphic design job differs greatly from coin design. Being invited to submit designs for UK coinage is such an honour that I take very seriously, whilst at the same time, thoroughly enjoying the experience. Within coin design, I very much let the subject lead the creative, rather than trying to give too much of design spin on things.

When I started working at The Royal Mint over 13 years ago, my main job was working on the mailing pieces and adverts that would be sent out to customers. Now, the world is a much faster paced place, with us doing so much more online activity. Coupled with so many varied coin designs, video, TV, exhibitions and The Royal Mint Experience onsite means that we are a much larger, busier team.

My graphics work is generally two-dimensional, this could be working on packaging, a stand for a show, or a graphic for a building. We are now moving far more into video, which I was a little nervous of before but now I absolutely thrive on it. It just shows that we can find new avenues and develop new talents when we least expect it. 

How did you feel about designing the coin to mark this significant anniversary?

Honest answer? I jumped at the chance! Anyone that knows me, knows that I passionately immerse myself in all the subjects that we commemorate but our royal history is my real passion with Her Majesty The Queen being such a strong, captivating thread through such a rich tapestry.

Talk us through the different elements of the coin…

I wanted to make The Queen central to my design. She is iconic, regal and celebrated, crowned and seated with orb and sceptre in the centre of the coin. It is a pose that has been admired for a lifetime.

I also brought Westminster Abbey, where The Queen’s coronation took place, into my design. Using the part of the lantern roof under which The Queen was crowned gives the coin an added sense of robust stature and longevity as the threads of the ribbed, gothic vaulting radiate out from the centre of the coin to touch the edges.

How did you go about designing this coin? Did you use anything in particular for your inspiration?

I studied photographs and footage of the coronation day and ceremony in detail. Such an unbelievable occasion, I can’t imagine how it would have felt to have witnessed that moment. Watching The Queen sitting there, it struck me, that there was such responsibility on such young shoulders. A princess that walked into Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953 later left as our queen. It was that crowning moment that I wished to capture within my coin design.

What was the most challenging aspect of the design?

I wanted the lantern roof to act as a dynamic frame, whilst keeping The Queen as the main centrepiece. We had to make the decision as to whether we should keep the area inside plain and which parts should be frosted and polished.

Tell us something we don’t already know about the design… 

The lantern roof in Westminster Abbey is particularly significant as it is not only The Queen has been crowned, but every English and British monarch since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066. It was very important to me that this piece can also speak for a monarch who reigns and shines at the end of a monumental timeline.

Her Majesty The Queen is at the heart of the coin in the pose captured by Cecil Beaton. It is this image from The Queen’s coronation that says so much through its simple grace and elegance that I felt it was truly appropriate for this coin.

How did you want your design to be received, what did you want it to communicate? And so far, has it been received as well as you’d hoped?

I would love to think that from seeing this coin with its iconic image and the dates on the coin, that people think back to that moment when a young princess became our queen. Then, each person will remember times throughout the years that The Queen has lived and reigned. I believe from that we get an even greater understanding of time and of the magnitude of her duty and devotion that remains constant today.

What has been the reaction to this whole experience from your friends and family? 

My family and friends have been so supportive and enthusiastic, every step of the way throughout my studies and my work life, there is nothing better then sharing these special milestones I am meeting along the way with them. 

This time last year, I was celebrating the launch of my Jane Austen design with my partner and family in Winchester. This year I am heading to Westminster Abbey and The Tower of London to celebrate this remarkable milestone of The Queen.

Who knows what the next chapter could hold design wise. All I know is that the last two have been a mighty fine read.

It really brings home how these monumental milestones in history are something to admire and treasure, and yet, are also beautifully interwoven into the fabric of our own lives with the most vivid of threads. 

Dominique’s design is available in Silver and Gold in either 5oz or Kilo. To add Dominique’s design to your collection, click here.

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