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The new cypher of King Charles III has been revealed, as a visual identity of Charles’ new reign. This means that it will soon be visible on places such as government buildings, post boxes, royal uniforms and state documents. Here are a few interesting details about the cypher, including what it is, who created it, and when we might see it.


What is a cypher?


A cypher is a monogram which belongs to the reigning monarch, which usually consists of the initials of the monarch interwoven with the title and surmounted by a crown. In modern heraldry the initials are often interwoven and in modern Commonwealth realms, the letter ‘R’ is used. This is to symbolise the Latin word ‘Rex’ or ‘Regina’ for King or Queen. In Scotland, the initials are surmounted by a Scottish Crown, and for King Charles’ cypher, the Lord Lyon King of Arms approved the design,(regulator of heraldry in Scotland). The practice dates back to the Tudor period using the initial of the sovereign, with the ‘R’ being added after the reign of Henry VIII. Interestingly, Queen Victoria’s cypher incorporated an ‘I’ after she became Empress of India.



King Charles' Cypher

King Charles’ Cypher with the Scottish version on the right.

King Charles III’s Cypher


On 26th September, Buckingham Palace revealed King Charles III’s royal cypher to the public. This will gradually replace the cypher of the late Queen Elizabeth II, and so it will begin to to be seen in a variety of setting, for example post boxes. The cypher contains the letters C and R interwoven with the III positioned within the upper part of the letter R, with a Tudor crown above the letters.

Who created the cypher for King Charles III?


As is customary, the Royal College of Arms created the cypher for King Charles. They presented options for the new King to consider and he selected his preference from their series of designs. The cypher is King Charles’ own personal property. So, what is the The College of Arms? Well, it was founded in 1484 and it is responsible for creating and maintaining official registers of pedigrees and coats of arms. The coats of arms on our surname history scrolls were created for a bearer of the name in times past, and as such is interesting for those sharing the name to see. (It does not mean however that the coat of arms ‘belongs’ to all people bearing the same name.)


Is the timing of the cypher’s revelation significant?


Yes. It comes after the Royal family’s official period of mourning comes to an end, seven days after her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. This is timed with members of the Royal family returning to regular duties.


When will we see King Charles’ cypher?


Displaying of the new Royal cypher will be at the discretion of the individual organisations involved. As far as post boxes go, existing post boxes will continue to display their current insignia so the changes will be very gradual. For example, there are still post boxes with the cypher of Queen Victoria – only when these need to be replaced will they feature Charles’ cypher. There will also be gradual changes to coinage, bank notes and stamps, which will be used alongside one another. So we will continue to see the face of our late Queen Elizabeth, as well as her son the new King Charles.



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