2016 was another milestone year for Queen Elizabeth II. She became the first British monarch to reach the age of 90, a momentous event that was marked by the British Royal Mint with three special commemorative coins.
Although she has always been popular with people from Britain and around the word – and is hailed as a “superstar” on her visits to the United States – the queen’s popularity has grown in recent years. She celebrated her Diamond Jubilee (60th anniversary) on the throne in 2012; she also made a spectacular appearance at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, appearing to parachute into the stadium from a helicopter with James Bond during the Opening Ceremonies.
More recently, in 2015 the queen became the longest-reigning British monarch in history, serving even longer than her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria. In 2016, she achieved a new benchmark of longevity: the world’s oldest reigning monarch. The hit TV series The Crown is introducing her to a new generation of fans while cementing her unique place in history and reminding millions more why they loved her in the first place.
The queen was born in 1926, and she became Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 upon the death of her father, King George VI. While her family has been constantly in the news for generations – especially since the marriage of her son Prince Charles to Princess Diana – it was the marriage of her grandson Prince William in 2011 and the birth of William’s children in 2013 and 2015 that revived an interest in the royal family.
As monarch, the queen’s portrait appears on the obverse of all British coins. The special 90th birthday celebration coins are official legal tender, but they were issued in limited editions and only a very few are available in the United States. The design features the royal “ER” (“Elizabeth Regina”) cypher and “90,” surrounded by a classical wreath of celebration that was inspired by the heraldic rose of England and the queen’s love of flowers. The design was approved by the queen herself.
There are three versions of this commemorative coin:
- £5 Sterling Silver Proof Birthday Coin. Struck in 92.5% silver (Sterling Silver) and presented in a polished black case with a booklet about the queen. Limited edition of 9,000.
- £20 Silver Birthday Coin. Struck in 99.9% silver and limited to 150,000 coins, it comes in a special presentation.
- £5 Birthday Coin. Presented in a custom folder.