Britannia to rule again on £2 coin

Emma Woollacott
The new £2 coin.
The new £2 coin.

The iconic figure of Britannia is set to return to Britain's currency this year, appearing on a new £2 coin.

It'll be the first time that newly-minted UK circulating coins have featured the patriotic emblem of Great Britain since she made way for the Royal Shield of Arms design on the 50p in 2008.

"Whilst she has remained on coins already in circulation, and features on the flagship Britannia commemorative coin struck in her honour since 1987, she is reborn on the £2 coin for 2015," says Royal Mint chief executive Adam Lawrence.

The image of Britannia has appeared in one form or another on the reverse, or 'tails', of British coins since 1672. However, in 2008, more contemporary designs were selected for the reverses of all definitive UK circulating coins from 1p to £1.

The new depiction has been created by Antony Dufort, an artist who has worked in a variety of disciplines, including portraiture, book illustration, film production and sculpture.

"I am used to creating over life-sized models so working within the constraints of the 5mm thickness of the coin was a totally new experience. But I have collected coins and this helped in considering my design; for example, Britannia's helmet and trident fill one side of the coin, while the inscription balances this on the other," he says.

"Britannia has taken so many forms and been presented with such a variety of symbolic elements, I looked to Greek and Roman coins and statues to ensure authenticity while modelling her trident and Corinthian helmet. However, I feel I have balanced these classic elements with clean, elegant lines for a contemporary-feeling composition."

Dufort's design replaces the current 'technology' design by Bruce Rushin which has featured on the coin since 1997.

"It is great to see Britannia's welcome return to our currency," says prime minister David Cameron.

"Making her first appearance on our coins in the 17th century, Britannia is an enduring symbol of our national identity, ideal to help reinforce the strong sense of shared purpose and history for modern Britons."

The new £2 coins will also be the first to bear a new portrait of the Queen, updated for the first time since 1998.

"This change of Royal portrait will make 2015 a vintage year for UK coins, and it will be hugely exciting for us all to see the new design appear on the coins we use every day," says Royal Mint chief executive Adam Lawrence.

The new coins will begin to enter circulation some time this year.

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