The Beauty of World Banknotes

Queen Elizabeth II on Banknotes

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has ruled for longer than any other monarch in British history. She became queen in February 1952 at the age of 25. Here is a history of her images on banknotes.


This first series Canadian $20 note features a portrait based on a photograph of the eight-year-old future queen, at that time Princess Elizabeth, the granddaughter of the then King George V. It shows a typical child of the 1930s, with the same short wavy hairstyle that has become the Queen’s trademark crop.

This Canadian $1 note features an image of the Queen based on a photograph taken by the Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh. It is thought to have been taken in 1951, just prior to her accession to the throne in 1952. She would have been around 25 here with two toddlers, Prince Charles and Princess Anne.

In June 1973, British Honduras was officially renamed Belize and in 1974 the first banknotes under the Government of Belize went into circulation. This portrait of the Queen, however, is thought to have been taken from a photograph taken by photographer Dorothy Wilding in 1952 just after her Coronation. The Queen would have been in her late 20s here and very much a royal in her prime.

This English ten shilling note was the first and only issued Bank of England ten shilling note to carry a portrait of a monarch. It was first issued in 1961, although the picture itself is said to date back to 1956. The Queen would have been just entering her 30s when this image was created. It shows a very smooth-faced young woman decorated in the Crown Jewels.

A few other notes

The full QE II story here

In 2024 King Charles III will appear on the English Currency.

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