From stamps to royal cypher, all the changes in UK after accession of King Charles III

Many aspects of British life will be different with the accession of the new monarch

A tribute in the form of 1st class stamps bearing the image of Queen Elizabeth II is pictured stuck to railings outside of Buckingham Palace in London. Stamps, coins and passports will now change to show King Charles III. AFP
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It is not just the face of a nation that will change with the accession of King Charles III.

Many aspects of British life will also be different, from a new face on stamps and coins and the royal cypher to new words for the country’s national anthem.

These are the changes facing the country.

National anthem

The words of the British national anthem will revert to how the song was originally sung — God Save the King — when it was first publicly performed in London in 1745.

The anthem came into being amid the patriotic fervour that followed the 1745 victory of Prince Charles Edward Stuart over King George II's army in Scotland.

It was sung at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, one night after a play. But it became such a success it was repeated nightly, according to the royal family's website. The practice soon spread to other theatres, and it became custom to greet monarchs with the song when they entered a place of public entertainment.

Only the first verse of the song is usually sung during official occasions, which will now be: “God save our gracious King! Long live our noble King! God save the King! Send him victorious, Happy and glorious, Long to reign over us, God save the King."

Coins and stamps

Newly-minted coins and printed banknotes will now feature the head of the king.

But the new monarch will face in the opposite direction to his predecessor, as has been tradition since the monarchy was restored following the 10 year republic of Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century.

Queen Elizabeth II faced right, which means King Charles III will face left.

Old coins and banknotes will be gradually replaced over time.

And postage stamps will be updated to feature the portrait of the new king.

Passports

King Charles III will travel overseas without a passport because he will not need one as the document will be issued in his name.

However, the preamble in new British passports asking for permission for holders to pass freely will change.

The preamble in every new passport will now state: “His Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of His Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.”

Royal Cypher

The Royal Cypher, which is the monogram used by the monarch that currently features the queen’s “EIIR” stamp below an image of the St Edward's Crown, will change.

The cypher appears on everything from red mail pillar boxes to police uniforms.

Both the cypher and the royal coat of arms will change with the new king.

Cyphers on post boxes will only appear on new ones, so the queen's cypher will stay on thousands across the country.

However, not all pillar boxes erected in her reign have the “EIIR” cypher, because Elizabeth II's ancestor Elizabeth I was not queen of Scotland and the English and Scottish crowns were not united until after her death in 1603.

As a result, some Scots did not accept Elizabeth II as queen. Early in her reign some boxes in Scotland were vandalised and one was even blown up, in a series of incidents known as the Pillar Box Wars. That is why most Scottish boxes carry the Crown of Scotland image only. The EIIR cypher continued to be used in the rest of the UK and other realms and territories.

Legal changes

Senior lawyers who were known as the Queen’s Counsel will become King’s Counsel, along with other legal titles which used queen.

Updated: September 09, 2022, 10:38 AM
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