Throughout history, the statue of Britannia has been a powerful symbol of Great Britain. Its origins can be traced back to Roman times when it referred to the Roman province of Britain. On Roman coins, Britannia was depicted as a helmeted woman, wielding a trident and shield, embodying the conquered land's strength and identity. As the concept of nationhood flourished during the Renaissance and Early Modern period, Britannia's representation evolved into a majestic, regal figure adorned with a Corinthian helmet, trident, shield, and olive branch. This personification resonated in art and literature, fostering a sense of national pride among the English people.
As the British Empire expanded, Britannia grew in importance and became associated with the nation’s seafaring prowess. With naval insignia, ship model heads and promotional material, the Britannia embodies the spirit of Britain’s naval power and exploration. Her image unified the nation and improved morale through wars and times of great difficulties. The icon retains endless appeal in the modern era, as Britannia continues to grace British coins and military badges. Thus, the journey of the Britannia icon through history reflects the enduring spirit of Great Britain, a nation that prides itself on its rich heritage and indomitable strength.
Britannia’s image is celebrated in the design featured on the coins of our new Queen’s Memorial Collection.
Remembering History: British Commemorative Coins
British commemorative coins have a rich history over the centuries, serving as reminders of important events and influences that shaped the country’s identity. From solemn remembrances of fallen soldiers in world wars to notable royal milestones and anniversaries, these commemorative coins have preserved the nation’s collection of memories in precious metals.
Over the years, British commemorative coins have evolved, reflecting artistic practices and social values. Commemorating events like Queen Elizabeth II's passing and historic milestones like the London Olympics, these coins capture historic moments and have become treasures for future generations. The Queen’s Memorial Collection continues this great tradition as it honours our late Queen on the first anniversary of her death.
View our Queens Memorial 2023 coin collection: