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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 January, 2004, 01:41 GMT
'Little p' on coin irks prince
By Lucy Wilkins
BBC News Online at the National Archives

The design was tweaked after the prince complained
The design of a coin to mark the UK joining the EEC was changed after Prince Philip said he did not like the "little p", newly released papers show.

Plans for the new 50 pence coin were announced by the chancellor in 1972 - ahead of minting in 1973.

But both Prime Minister Edward Heath and Prince Philip disliked the design.

Documents, just made public under the 30 year rule, reveal that both men disapproved of the use of "p" instead of "pence" on the coin.

In a letter to the prime minister, the Master of the Mint said he recognised their concerns.

I don't like that little 'p'
Prince Philip in 1972
He wrote: "When talking to Prince Philip [President of the Royal Mint advisory Committee] last week I asked him how he liked the new coin.

"He replied that he liked it, but added: 'I don't like that little 'p'!"

That was sufficient for the change to be made.

And by the time the designs were next seen, the inscription had been amended to "1973 50 pence".

"The Master of the Mint knows his place!," he told the Prime Minister jokingly.

Initial plans to have "European Community" on the coin were rejected as the lettering would have been tiny.

The Foreign Office felt 'Europe' would offend countries other than the nine members of the EEC.

And the Treasury also had an opinion about the commemorative coin, pointing out that the "p" could be confusing to people, "especially the elderly" who still might not be used to the new system of decimal currency, introduced in 1971.

Decimal currency fears
14 Feb 01  |  UK News


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