On Nov. 20, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. Their 1947 marriage took place in Westminster Abbey in front of 2,000 guests and was broadcast to 200 million radio listeners.
For the British nation the occasion was a welcome celebration after two years of harsh post-war austerity. And, when it came to austerity the then Princess Elizabeth led from the front. She used ration tokens to buy the material for her dress and on the big day did her own makeup.
The queen and her prince are the first British royal couple to celebrate a platinum wedding anniversary. Their marriage is the longest of any of Britain’s royals.
Several nations of the British Commonwealth have struck coins to mark the occasion. Among these Great Britain’s Royal Mint has produced 11 in gold, silver, cupronickel, and appropriately, platinum which show three original designs.
The common obverse is the work of sculptor Etienne Millner and presents a conjoined portrait of the couple as they are today. Millner’s intent was to capture the royals’ sense of duty and particularly Prince Philip’s support for the queen in his role of royal consort. That she achieved this in all particulars is self-evident.
Coinage artist John Bergdahl is responsible for both reverses. One presents a combined portrait of the queen and Prince Philip as is now traditional for British coins marking wedding anniversaries of the royal couple. It shows the pair on horseback highlighting their mutual passion for all things equestrian.
The second displays embellished coats-of-arms of the royals that detail the heraldic lineage of both families. Those shown for the duke were introduced two years after the wedding. He was somewhat dismissive of those granted him in 1947, leading him to undertake some free-lance redesign work.
The 11 coins are (diameter, weight, fineness, mintage): cupronickel – £5 BU (38.61 mm, 28.28 g, unlimited); silver – £5 proof (38.61 mm, 28.28 g .925 fine, 15,950), £5 proof piedfort (38.61 mm, 56.56 g .925 fine, 4.500), £10 proof (65 mm, 156.295 g .999 fine, 2,147), £20 BU (27.00 mm, 15.71 g .999 fine, 70,000), £500 (100 mm, 1,005 g .999 fine, 550); gold – £5 proof (38.61 mm, 39.94 g .917 fine, 1,375), £10 proof (50.00 mm, 156.295 g .9999 fine, 175), £1000 proof (100 mm, 1,005 g .9999 fine, 31); platinum – £5 proof piedfort (38.61 mm, 94.20 g .9995 fine, 125), £25 proof (20.00 mm, 7.846 g .9995 fine, 1,500).
Down Under the Royal Australian Mint’s designer Aleksandra Stokic presents a rather different take on royal heraldry to provide the common reverse of two celebratory 31.51 mm 50 cents: a 15.55 g BU cupronickel and an 18.24 g .999 fine silver proof. Mintages are 30,000 and 5,000, respectively.
At top center Stokic shows a monogram for the royal couple. Below are two heraldic crowns, firstly of an heir apparent (Prince Charles) and secondly of the first child of the heir apparent (Prince William); below the Royal Arms stand for Prince George. Together the symbols signify the line of succession of the House of Windsor.
Each heraldic device is flanked by myrtle blossoms, an ancient sign of love and the Hebrew emblem of marriage. Sprays of Australian wattle bear seven blossoms each, one for each decade of the royal marriage.
From Australia’s Perth Mint come four coins: a 40.60 mm, 31.107 g (1 oz) .9999 fine silver $1, a 20.60 mm, 7.777 g (1/4 oz) .9999 fine gold $25, a 41.10 mm, 62.213 g (2 oz) .9999 fine gold $200, and a 41.10 mm. 62.238 g (2 oz) .9995 fine platinum $200. Mintages are 5,000, 750, 350 and 250, respectively.
On the common reverse Aleysha Howarth has chosen to depict unadorned and simplified versions of the coats-of-arms. Below are the floral emblems of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales with St. Edward’s Crown above.
When it comes to royal celebrations the Royal Canadian Mint can be relied on to pluck something remarkable out of the bag. In early October it released its first all-platinum set since 2004 with all coins double-dated (1947-2017).
The four .9995 fine platinum proofs are: $30 (16 mm, 3.13 g), $75 (20 mm, 7.8 g), $150 (25 mm, 15.59 g), and $300 (30 mm, 31.16 g). Mintage is 600 sets.
The reverse design by Canadian artist Marie-Élaine Cusson deliberately features a maple leaf on each coin to honor the queen of Canada. In addition the $300 coin bears the royal monograms of the queen and Prince Philip along with the number 70.
New Zealand has reverted to a different sort of tradition. It has produced a 38.61 mm, 1 oz .999 fine silver proof dollar. The reverse shows a 1947 black and white photograph of the newly married couple emerging from Westminster Abbey.
The image is encircled by the princess’s platinum engagement ring that was set with diamonds from a tiara gifted to Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Greece, on her wedding day by her uncle, the last tsar of Russia. On the New Zealand coin the place of ring’s central stone has been filled with a Swarovski crystal. Mintage is 2,017.
Pobjoy Mint has struck coins for both Ascension Island and Fiji. For Ascension the mint has produced two 38.60 mm, 20.28 g crowns, one in BU and the other as a .925 fine sterling silver proof. Mintages are 10,000 and 2,000, respectively.
The common reverse is based on a portrait taken at the state opening of Parliament last year. It shows the queen and prince in their formal robes. The obverse bears a conjoined portrait of the couple seemingly from some decades ago.
For Fiji there are two commemoratives: a 38.60 mm, 28.28 g, 925 fine silver $2 proof and a 38.60 mm, 31.103 g platinum $10 resplendent with diamonds. Mintages are 2,000 and 650, respectively, with the latter made to order.
Once again the coats of arms of the queen and prince feature on the reverses along with myrtle and also ivy symbolic of eternity, fidelity and wedded love.
This year also marks the 65th (sapphire) anniversary of the accession of the queen to the throne. This is not an anniversary she celebrates. It is associated with the death of her father. Nonetheless, at least two Commonwealth countries have issued coins for the occasion.
This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.
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