From her origins in the era of the Roman Empire, Britannia has evolved to be a powerful symbol of Britain, representing the British nation and the values it upholds. She has appeared across artforms of all types, from sculpture to song, and has enjoyed a long history on Britain’s coinage. Through the centuries, each interpretation of the iconic figure has revealed much about the historical and social context of its time. One theme has endured throughout the centuries: Britannia’s maritime origins and her role as protector of Britain’s shores.
Jonathan Olliffe has a background in fine art and has created several designs for The Royal Mint along the themes of sport and royalty. His design for the Britannia 2023 UK commemorative coin is reminiscent of Philip Nathan’s iconic 1997 design for the Britannia silver bullion coin, and reflects the eighteenth-century medals that show Britannia driving a sea chariot pulled by horses. In a unique twist, the design brings together aquatic and serpent-inspired creatures with traditional equine figures.
Each coin comes with a booklet on Britannia’s story and the inspiration behind Jonathan Olliffe’s design.