What Happens to Everything With Queen Elizabeth II’s Image?

Similarly, some police forces use the queen's cipher on their uniforms. The traditional domed custodian helmet--or "bobby's helmet"--used by the Metropolitan Police in London and some other forces features the cipher rather prominently, for example, at the center of a silver-colored emblem called the Brunswick star. Police uniform suppliers contacted by WIRED did not respond to requests for comment about potential uniform changes to reflect the new monarch. "It's something we would imagine forces will look at going forward after the period of national mourning has ended, likely in conversation with the Cabinet Office," a spokesman for the National Police Chiefs' Council says.

"EIIR" as a symbol has become deeply familiar, along with portraits of the queen such as the famous Arnold Machin portrait used on postage stamps, says Pauline Maclaren at Royal Holloway, University of London. "It'll be so strange, it fading into the background," she adds. But fade these things will, if not entirely. This has actually been happening for many decades as various nations have modernized and moved away from the trappings of the British Empire.

The queen's image was once even more prominent than it is today, especially in certain countries of the Commonwealth. "At one point, you would have seen a portrait of the queen in every [Australian] school classroom--that's long gone," says Cindy McCreery, senior lecturer in the department of history at the University of Sydney. But all coins and some banknotes in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, to name a few countries where the British monarch is head of state, still carry her likeness.

The mere prospect of a highly noticeable change to these financial instruments is itself a prompt to reconsider what it means to live in a monarchy, says McCreery. That alone could fuel the debate over whether Australia should remain as such--or step out as a republic. "There's been a very, partly conscious and partly unconscious, downsizing of monarchical paraphernalia and insignia," says Peter McNally, professor emeritus at McGill University, referring to the situation in Canada, another of the realms instantly inherited by Charles III upon the death of his mother.

Some in Canada draw on the monarchy to distinguish their culture from that of the United States, notes McNally. But it does not appeal to everyone. And whether Charles III will feature on £20 banknotes in Canada, as the queen did, feels "up in the air" during this period of transition, he says.

The Bank of Canada and Royal Canadian Mint have not given any indication of what will happen with these notes.