Who is Britannia on the Coins?

The Britannia is one of the most famous coins ever released in British coinage history. It is the pride and joy of the Royal Mint and also forms the backbone of any precious metal coin portfolio. The Britannia is available in both gold and silver and offers tremendous liquidity to the portfolio of an investor. Due to its reputation as one of the best-known coins in the world, it is easily saleable for cash.

The Britannia coin

The Britannia gold coin is a 1-ounce coin with a purity of 999.9 and a face value of 100 GBP that was launched by the Royal Mint in 1987. It is available in bullion and proof finishes, as well as fractional sizes. The Royal Mint also introduced a silver Britannia coin in 1997, which has a face value of 2 pounds. The silver Britannia contains one Troy ounce of fine silver. Both the gold and the silver coin feature a portrait of the reigning British monarch, Queen, Elizabeth II on the obverse of the coin. The reverse of the coin features the classic image of Britannia. The event featured on the coins issued from 1987, was designed by Philip Nathan. In 2018, the Royal Mint also released a Platinum version of the Britannia coin that contains one Troy ounce of Platinum and has a face value of £100.

Who is Britannia on the Coins?
The iconic image of Britannia above Somerset House in London

Who was Britannia?

In 43AD Britannia meant Roman Britain. This was an area to the south of what is known today as Scotland. In 197AD Roman Britain was divided into 4 provinces and 2 of these were Britannia Superior and Britannia Inferior. Britannia was the name given to this Island. In the 2nd Century, Roman Britannia was what is recognised today as the goddess armed with a trident and shield. Britannia was featured on all modern British coinage until being redesigned in 2008.


The Romans used the term ‘Britannicae’ to refer to the British Isles. The inhabitants of Britain were called ‘Britons’ at the time. Another name for the people of the British Isles used by the Romans was ‘Britanni’. Since the British Isles represented the furthest territory of the Roman Empire, it became symbolised with the goddess of warfare and water. Roman mythology portrays a goddess called Minerva, who is popularly known as the torchbearer of arts, commerce, strategy and wisdom. The image of Britannia was based on the icon of goddess Minerva and came to personify the British Isles over the years.

Who is Britannia on the Coins?
A World War 1 Poster depicting Britannia

Reinforcement of the Britannia image

After the invasion of England by the Anglo-Saxons, the ethnicity of the country changed drastically, with the exodus of the original Celtic Britons. However, years later, as Queen Elizabeth, I combined England, Scotland, Ireland. and Wales and significantly increased the nation’s naval power, the image of Britannia was restored as a representation of the nation’s power and the Queen. This was further reinforced during the reign of the great Queen Victoria when the British Empire became the most powerful empire in the world and Britannia ruled the waves. The iconic image of Britannia was then put firmly in place to represent the power of the British Empire, and its monarch.

Physical Gold can assist you in purchasing Britannia coins

Whether it’s gold Britannias or silver ones that you’re after, our coin experts at Physical Gold can advise you on how to get the best deals. Call us on (020) 7060 9992 or drop us an email and a member of our team will reach out to you at the earliest.


Image credits: Alastair Rae and Picryl

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