The world’s longest reigning living monarch — celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday

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Marking her Platinum Jubilee in 2022, today she also celebrates her 96th birthday.

Her Majesty ascended to the throne on 6th February 1952 and has since reigned as a constitutional monarch through years of significant change. She sees public and voluntary service as one of the most important elements of her work, having links with over 600 charities, military associations, professional bodies and public service organisations.

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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Source: Alarmy

During her lifetime many coins have been issued in celebration of her birthday, of which she has two — her actual birthday on 21st April and her official birthday on (usually) the second Saturday in June.

Let’s take a look at some of the different coins released over the years in celebration of Her Majesty’s birthdays below.

2021 UK Queen Elizabeth II 95th Birthday BU £5

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 95th birthday in 2021. This major event, making her the first ever ruling monarch in British history to reach this milestone, was commemorated on a UK £5 coin.

The extraordinary 95th anniversary year is highlighted on this detailed £5 coin, designed by heraldic artist Timothy Noad. It features the date of the Queen’s birth and the year 2021 visible on the reverse. The Royal Cypher takes centre stage, with the quote “MY HEART AND MY DEVOTION” surrounding it along the edge. Ninety-five mills are found on this coin’s ‘wavedmilled edge, celebrating one for each year of the Queen’s life.

Traditionally, UK £5 coins are reserved for the most important Royal and Historical anniversaries, and there are few Royal events which are as important as Her Majesty’s birthday.

QEII 95th Birthday BU 50p

In 2021, 10,000 of these 95th Birthday 50ps were released into circulation on the Isle of Man. Fully approved by Buckingham Palace, this design features specially commissioned artwork by sculptor Luigi Badia.

Badia has impressively created over twenty-five portraits of the Queen and this QEII 95th Birthday Brilliant Uncirculated 50p features a recently designed portrait of Her Majesty. His process of sketching a new portrait of the Queen starts with collecting lots of reliable references, combining them to make a unique portrait.  

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Luigi Badia’s portrait of the Queen used on obverse of coins

When Badia sketches a portrait to feature specifically on a coin, he usually chooses a profile portrait for a more traditional design. He uses the sketch just as a guide for then producing the plaster model, which he crafts himself over a few weeks to ensure the final coins depict his version exactly.

British Isles 50p coins like this rarely turn up in your change in the UK, making these 50p coins some of the most sought-after circulating coins around.

UK 2021 Queen Elizabeth II’s Official Birthday Silver
DateStamp™ Issue

This special DateStamp™ issue features JUST 500 hand-selected UK 2021 Royal Coat of Arms 1oz Silver Coins, protectively encapsulated and stamped with the official Royal Mail one-day-only postmark of 12th June 2021 – the official date of Her Majesty’s 95th birthday.

This 1oz coin is impeccably struck from 99.9% Pure Silver to The Royal Mint’s Bullion finish. The reverse design by Timothy Noad depicts the official Coat of Arms of HRH Queen Elizabeth II, with the historic design celebrating centuries of British Royal lineage — The Royal Arms is the official coat of Arms of the ruling monarch.

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The UK 2021 Royal Coat of Arms 1oz Silver Coin Obverse and Reverse

The UK Royal Coat of Arms 1oz Silver Coin has a maximum mintage of 100,000 coins but considering JUST 500 of these limited DateStamp™ issues were available upon initial release, it makes this particular presentation incredibly sought-after.

Visible within the reverse design are the national flowers for each country within the UK: the Tudor rose of England, the Leek for Wales, the Shamrock for Northern Ireland, and the Thistle for Scotland. Featuring on the obverse is Jody Clark’s definitive coinage portrait of Her Majesty the Queen.

2006 UK 80th Birthday £5 Coin

In 2006 a special £5 coin was released, which has since been announced as the fourth rarest £5 coin issued (as of the latest mintage update in 2013)! This £5 coin celebrates the Queen’s 80th birthday, with the dates 1926 and 2006 inscribed as Her Majesty was born in 1926.

This £5 coin is very popular with collectors, which is not surprising when you see its beautiful design. Three trumpets with trumpet banners display on the reverse, accompanied by the inscription “VIVAT REGINA”, the Latin phrase for ‘long live the Queen’. Danuta Solowiej-Wedderburn designed the reverse whilst the obverse features Ian Rank-Broadley’s (FRBS) portrait of HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

One such event that took place for Her Majesty’s 80th birthday included an informal walkabout in which the Queen spent roughly forty-five minutes interacting with more than 20,000 well-wishers who lined the streets outside Windsor Castle. She was accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh and crowds waved Union flags, as well as carried colourful celebratory bouquets.

Did you know that due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Trooping the Colour ceremony which traditionally marks Her Majesty’s official birthday, could not follow its long-established format in 2021.

Coins that have an interesting back-story, such as these, can be particularly sought-after with collectors!

Explore our range of coins in celebration of the Queen’s previous birthday’s by clicking here >>

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4 monumental aircraft to the Royal Air Force’s history

The birth of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1918 was the first time there had been a separate and independent air force established in any country.

It soon became among the most dominant air forces globally.

The 1930’s saw public interest in aircraft increase dramatically and following World War Two (WWII), the demand for the number of aircraft to be built grew quickly in a very short space of time.

Throughout its life, the RAF has monitored the advances in aircraft for military use, and today displays some of the greatest developments in aircraft technology.

For nearly a decade we’ve worked in partnership with the RAF. In that time, we’ve preserved and celebrated over 100 years of history on official commemorative releases.

Let me tell you about 4 aircraft monumental during their existence.

The Sopwith F1 Camel

This Biplane fighter had only one seat and was given the nickname Camel after one squadron commented on its hump like appearance. A comment that would influence its official name.

Carelessness would get you killed in this aircraft.

Pilots had to be skilled to fly it, attentive and observant.

The Camel thrived in daylight but also succeeded at night.

The aircrafts actual nickname?

The King of the Air Fighters.

Sopwith Camel Digital Illustration - 4 monumental aircraft to the Royal Air Force's history
The Sopwith Camel

The Avro Lancaster

The Lancaster proved vital towards the end of WWII for Bomber Command. The aircraft helped Britain successfully undermine Nazi Germany from the air.

Lancaster crews risked their lives every time they took to the air in these bombers.

They showed tremendous bravery.

On average they carried out 21 missions before they were lost.

The Eurofighter Typhoon

A vision of the future.

This is how the RAF describe this 21st century Eurofighter Typhoon.

Did you know this aircraft can travel two times faster than the speed of sound? It uses cutting edge technology and has many advanced features.

The UK, Germany, and Italy all worked collaboratively on this aircraft, as they have done also with the tornado project for over several decades.

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The Eurofighter Typhoon

The Spitfire

The Spitfire is by far the most famous British fighter aircraft in history. It was designed by Reginald J Mitchell for the Second World War and there are many reasons why pilots fell in love with it.

It was a symbol of freedom.

The early Mark II could reach speeds of up to 360 mph.

The Spitfires sleek lines and elliptical shaped wings make it perhaps the most graceful fighter ever created.

Did you know that Mitchell’s first attempt to answer the British Air Ministry’s call for an all-metal land-based fighter aircraft was rejected?

It had a cooling system issue.

So, his team tried again.

And boy, did they triumph.

The new design had retractable landing gear, an enclosed cockpit and of course, the thin wing shape.

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Diagram of the Spitfire aircraft

After the first flight of the prototype in 1936 only a few changes were made and by early June, the Air Ministry had ordered 310 Spitfires. By the outbreak of the Second World War, 306 Spitfires were in service with the RAF, along with 71 waiting and 2,000 in the pipeline.

If you’re interested…

The aircraft I have spoken about are intricately illustrated on our collection of commemoratives celebrating the History of the RAF.

The first one in the collection I hear you ask.

Well of course it must be the Spitfire.

Bill Dady, the renowned aviation artist, has designed this one. 

Click here to start the History of the RAF Collection by securing your Spitfire Commemorative
for FREE >

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Britain through the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II: Part 4 

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The Land of Hope and Glory Collection tells the story of Britain through the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

In the final instalment of the series, we will revisit some of the important events that have happened during Her Majesty’s reign in the past three decades.

Fire at Windsor Castle

On the 20th November, 1992 a terrible fire took place at Windsor Castle, the magnificent building Her Majesty the Queen calls home for most of her private weekends and one month a year over Easter.

Maintenance work was being carried out in the Castle at the time when a faulty spotlight overheated leading to it igniting. A nearby curtain took hold of the heat, lighting up in flames.

The fire spread dramatically.

Luckily, due to the work being carried out, much of the furniture which would have been near when the fire started, had already been removed to create space. This meant that a lot of possessions that would have been completely destroyed, were safely tucked away somewhere else.

Those working in the Castle, along with soldiers and members of the Royal family, all formed a human chain to pass items along out of the building. As such this meant that 300 clocks, historic manuscripts, thousands of valuable books, a forty-six-meter-long table, thirty-seven-meter-long carpet, and a collection of miniatures were all rescued.

Help quickly arrived and all together 1.5 million gallons (6,750 tons) of water from the mains water supply, a reservoir fire hydrant, a swimming pool, a pond, and the nearby River Thames were used to stop the fire.

After five years the Castle was returned to its former glory and remains open to the public throughout the year — continuing its 900 years of history today.

To find out more details of booking a visit to the Castle, click here >>

Channel Tunnel Opens

The American Society of Civil Engineers described this as one of the “seven wonders of the world” in 1996. Connecting Britain and the European mainland for the first time ever since the Ice Age, The Channel Tunnel reduced travel time between England and France to a mere thirty-five minutes. At the height of its construction fifteen thousand people were employed and eleven boring machines used. One boring machine is as long as two two football pitches, and all eleven together weighed an enormous twelve thousand tones.

Interestingly, one remains buried under the Channel and another was sold on eBay in 2004 for £39,999!

Her Majesty travelled from Waterloo to Calais on the 6th May, 1994 at a speed of 80 pmh. She joined President Mitterrand, who had travelled from Paris at 186 mph and together they officially opened the Channel, cutting red, white and blue ribbons to the sound of each’s national anthems.

The Angel of the North is constructed

Standing at an impressive sixty-five feet, the impressive Angel of the North is the height of four double decker buses!

In 1994, when winning artist Antony Gormley’s designs were revealed, the public were not too happy with the plans. Causing uproar, materials put forward were frowned upon, along with the size and magnitude of the sculpture in such an open and unlikely place.

However, many years on, those that live near have fallen in love with it. It has become a site of pleasure and this year celebrates its 24th birthday. Made from steel and a small amount of cooper, the Angel is meant to last for more than one hundred years. Coppers slows the erosion of the steel, and the materials together are quite malleable and can be easily manipulated into a variety of shapes and forms. The Angel of the North cost £800,000 to build and is seen by more than one person every second. It represents the history behind the site, societies future and our transition from the industrial age to the information age. An evolving sculpture to evolve with us.

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Angel of the North in Durham Rd, Low Eighton, Gateshead

The Millennium Fireworks

The millennium fireworks marked the movement into a new decade. Celebrations were held up and down the United Kingdom, with something for everyone to take part in, and crowds of more than two million took to London.

An incredible firework display took place by the River Thames. Outside of the UK, events were coordinated around the world to see in the new millennium, including an outdoor concert in Washington, United States.

On the Tower Bridge of London Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II lit a laser which shot fire across the river to the national beacon. This beacon took hold of the fire, signalling the embrace of a new century. Soon after, beacons across the UK all became lit, uniting everyone across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Her Majesty also attended the Millennium Dome in Greenwich which held a special concert.

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Fireworks display for the Millennium

Birth of Prince George

In 2012, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced that they were expecting their first child. This child would become third in line to the throne and would become a future monarch of the United Kingdom. On 22nd July 2013, Prince George was born at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.

Prior to his birth the Queen made some changes which impacted the Bill of Rights (1689) and the Act of Settlement (1701). A new Crown Act (2013) was brought into force which essentially put an end to a younger son displacing an elder daughter in the line of succession to the throne. Prince George is the first to have been born under this act. You can find out more about the line of succession here >>

As is tradition with any Royal birth, the announcement was placed on the easel outside Buckingham Palace. Along with this, many celebrated up and down the commonwealth countries, and certain water features across the globe were illuminated in blue.

This instalment marks the last in our Britain through the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II blog series. We hope you have enjoyed travelling back with us through the different decades as much as we have.

If you’re interested…

The Land of Hope and Glory Collection celebrates Britain through the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. And today, you can start the collection of a Lifetime. Click here to secure the Coronation Medal for FREE >>

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Revisit the historic moments that have shaped Britain through the reign of Queen Elizabeth II with our Land of Hope and Glory blog series:

Click here to read instalment 1 of the Land of Hope and Glory blog series >>

Click here to read instalment 2 of the Land of Hope and Glory blog series >>

Click here to read instalment 3 of the Land of Hope and Glory blog series >>