The edge is not only milled but also inscribed. The inscription in Latin reads:
“DECUS ET TUTAMEN”
Which may be translated as “an ornament and a safeguard”. This inscription dates back to the first machine-struck coins minted in 1662 and was a device to prevent “clipping”.
Llantrisant Mint Mark
On the milled edge of the coin is the Llantrisant mint mark – a cross crosslet. This is the first United Kingdom coin to be struck with this distinctive feature. The shape of the cross alluding to Llantrisant, which translated from the Welsh means “Church or Parish of the Three Saints”.
The obverse bears the new fourth portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, introduced on all UK coins in 1998.
The reverse of the coin shows the Royal Arms, and it is appropriate that it should feature on one of the nation’s premier coins.
Queen Elizabeth II is a direct descendant of the Sovereigns of England, of Ireland and of Scotland. Accordingly Her Majesty is head of the oldest continuing Royal Lines in Christendom. As the embodiment of the Sovereignty of those countries, Her Majesty quarters their historic Arms.
The Royal Arms achieved their present form upon the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837 and have remained essentially the same ever since.
This design was used on the original pound coin in 1983, and was also used in 1993, each time with a different portrait on the obverse of the coin.