In 2008 UK coins underwent an extensive redesign, which changed the reverse
designs, and some other details, of all coins except the £2. The redesign was
the first wholesale change to British coinage since the first decimal coins were
introduced in April 1968. The major feature of the new design is that it is
shared across 6 coins (1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p), that can be pieced together
to form the image of the Royal Shield. This was the first time a coin design has
featured across multiple coins in this way. Completing the set, the new £1
reverse features the Shield in its entirety.
The new design can be summed up as follows:
Left: the new coins
The 1p coin depicts the first
and third quarter of the shield, representing
England and Northern Ireland
The 2p coin depicts the
second quarter of the shield, showing the lion
rampant representing Scotland
The 5p coin depicts the
centre of the shield, showing the meeting of
England, Scotland and Northern Ireland at the
middle of the arms
The 10p coin depicts the
first quarter of the shield, containing the
three lions passant representing England
The 20p coin depicts the
second and fourth quarter, representing England
The 50p coin depicts the
bottom of the shield where the harp and lions
passant meet, representing England and Northern
The £1 coin depicts the whole
of the Royal Shield
The redesign was the result of a competition launched by the Royal
Mint in August 2005, which closed on 14 November 2005. The design
competition was open to the public and received over 4,000 entries.
The winning entry was unveiled on 2 April 2008, designed by Matthew
Dent, 26, from Bangor. The Royal Mint stated the new designs were
"reflecting a twenty-first century Britain". An advisor to the Royal
Mint described the new coins as "post-modern", something that could
not have been done 50 years previously.
Left: Royal coat of arms of the United
Andrew Stafford, the chief executive of the Royal
Mint, said: "It's the only work of art that every member of the
general public touches every day, that is important to the nation's
way of life.
"We had to make sure that the coin design was true to the heritage
of British coins and gave fresh inspiration and modernity to
something that has been in existence for 40 years."
The official blazon of the Royal
A less formal description
|Quarterly, first and
fourth Gules three lions passant gardant in pale Or armed
and langued Azure (for England), second quarter Or a lion
rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory Gules
(for Scotland), third quarter Azure a harp Or stringed
Argent (for Ireland).
||The shield is quartered,
depicting in the first and fourth quarters the three passant
guardant lions of England; in the second, the rampant lion
and double tressure fleury-counter-fleury of Scotland; and
in the third, a harp for Ireland.
The redesign was criticised by some for having no specifically Welsh symbol
(such as the Welsh Dragon), because the Royal Shield does not include a
specifically Welsh symbol. Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, who was also campaigning to
have the Welsh Dragon included on the Union Flag, called the omission
"disappointing", and stated that he would be writing to the Queen to request
that Royal Standard be changed to include Wales. The Royal Mint stated that "the
Shield of the Royal Arms is symbolic of the whole of the United Kingdom and as
such, represents Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland."
Designer Dent stated "I am a Welshman and proud of it, but I never thought about
the fact we did not have a dragon or another representation of Wales on the
design because as far as I am concerned Wales is represented on the Royal Arms.
This was never an issue for me."
"I felt it was important to have a theme running through from one to another. I
can imagine people playing with them, having them on a tabletop and enjoying
them. I would love it if the coins are played with by everyone from kids at
school to folks in a pub."