The design for new coins featuring King Charles III has been released. Within a few weeks we should see 50p coins with his head on them, although the Queen Elizabeth coins will still be perfectly usable.

In case you’re wondering why it feels like he’s facing the wrong way, then it turns out that’s actually tradition. Each time we get a new monarch, the coin design flips such that they alternate from facing left to right and so on. We just haven’t had a new monarch within almost anyone’s living memory.

This has been the case since the 1600s, only broken at the request of King Edward VIII. Although even that was mainly a theoretical breach for anyone outside of specialist coin collectors, because no coins got into general circulation before he abdicated.

This also explains why Queen Elizabeth faced left on stamps but right on coins. The convention for “normal” stamps has been for the monarch to always face left, whereas she happened to be on the looking-right phase of the coin schedule.

Likewise kings typically do not wear crowns in their coin portraits, whereas queens do.