King Charles Won't Replace His Mother On Australia's New $5 Bills

Two-and-a-half billion people in more than 50 countries are members of the Commonwealth. Founded in 1932, the it encompasses many of the colonies that were once a part of the British Empire. The British monarch is recognized as the Head of the Commonwealth, but only in 14 member countries is the monarch recognized as the head of state. This includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and a number of Caribbean countries. However, that number may be coming down. Barbados removed the British monarch as head of state in 2021, and others, including Jamaica, may follow suit, according to Foreign Policy. That made for quite the visit by William, Prince of Wales, and Catherine, Princess of Wales, on their 2022 Caribbean tour as they faced protests and calls for reparations.

With potential changes looming for which nations recognize the monarch as their head of state after the death of Queen Elizabeth, there are also practical changes to make the switch to King Charles III on post boxes, stamps, and currency that bear the image of Queen Elizabeth in the U.K. and across the world. However, Australia has already decided King Charles III won't be taking his mother's place on its new $5 banknotes.

The queen's image will be replaced by a design celebrating First Australians

The Reserve Bank of Australia announced that it will be undergoing a redesign of the $5 bill, which currently features a picture of Queen Elizabeth on one side. Instead of updating it with an image of King Charles III, it will have "a new design that honours the culture and history of the First Australians." The First Australians is a reference to the indigenous people of Australia and the Torres Strait Islands. Currency designers are consulting with First Australians to create the notes, though the Reserve points out that the new $5 bills will not be in circulation for "a number of years." In the meantime, the current $5 bills featuring Queen Elizabeth II will continue to be issued. The king's image will, however, be replacing the queen's on the coins used in Australia, reported the BBC.

This isn't the first time that the British monarch has been phased out of Australian currency. Until the 1950s, the British monarch was on every Australian banknote. The queen's image was on the first Australian $1, introduced in 1966, with photos taken specifically for the occasion to be more stately and less "pretty," according to the Reserve Bank of Australia Museum. After the $1 note was phased out, Queen Elizabeth's image was then used on the $5 in Australia starting in 1992. The most recent update for the Australian $5 bill was in 2016, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. On Twitter, many people are applauding the move, and others think it should be a model to follow, like the Canadian politician who tweeted about wanting something similar to happen in Canada.