Deciphering Royal Insignia: A Spotlight on Our Coronation Ranges
The Royal Cypher of His Majesty King Charles III
The cypher of His Majesty King Charles III was unveiled last autumn as the personal choice of The King from a selection of designs prepared by The College of Arms.
Versions of a Royal cypher in England can be traced back to the reign of Henry VII (1457 – 1509). Their design has always contained the initials of the monarch with their title, either ‘Rex’ or ‘Regina’, the Latin for King or Queen, and have been used as a form of identification on State documents, government buildings, and perhaps most recognisably, on post boxes.
Edward VII (1901 – 1910) appears to have been the first Sovereign to surmount his cypher with a crown, and this is a custom which has continued since. Queen Elizabeth II’s cypher was the first to use St Edward’s crown; however, King Charles has chosen to return to his predecessor's use of the Tudor Crown.
The Tudor Crown, or Henry VIII’s crown, was used by English monarchs from roughly the time of Henry VIII until it was destroyed along with nearly all other Coronation Regalia in the Civil War. It was an enormously elaborate crown decorated with emeralds, sapphires, rubies, pearls, diamonds, and enamel figurines of the Virgin Mary, St George, and Christ. A replica of the crown was created in 2012 and is displayed at Hampton Court Palace.
Royal Cyphers from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II
The practice of including a royal cypher on letter boxes began during the reign of Queen Victoria, and ‘cypher-spotting’ (or the act of searching for cyphers) can be a fascinating way to date post boxes or other structures whenever one chooses to look a bit closer at otherwise quotidien parts of the every day.
King Charles’s cypher will gradually appear as a part of the tapestry and symbolism of life in Britain. The Bank of England, for instance, has revealed the design of new banknotes and coins with a portrait of The King and His cypher. While the design has been approved, they are not expected to enter widespread circulation until mid-2024. Following guidance from the Royal Household, to minimise the environmental and financial impact of a wholesale change in currency, new notes and coins will only be printed or minted to replace worn currency. Notes and coins featuring Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III will therefore co-circulate.
Our Royal Cypher Enamel Box
Although it may be some time before you pay for your morning coffee with a note or coin(s) bearing the image of our new King, this understated yet powerful marker of a new reign manifest in His cypher will become an historically important shorthand for this neo-Carolinian age.
It is particularly special for us, therefore, that we are able to depict His Majesty's Royal Cypher at the centre of our Coronation designs to celebrate a new reign and to signify for years to come the significance of continuity in the midst of change.