A new loonie featuring the effigy of His Majesty King Charles III, who ascended to the throne following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, was unveiled by the Royal Canadian Mint on Tuesday. 

Canadians can expect a small number of the coins to go into circulation by early December. 

The new design was selected from more than 350 submissions by artists and engravers across the country, who were invited to participate in a competitive process by the Mint.

“Since 1953, the portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth has graced the obverse of Canadian coins. Today, 70 years later, a new chapter in Canadian history begins,” said Mint president and CEO Marie Lemay in Winnipeg.

“We wish His Majesty a happy birthday and we look forward to soon sending him his very own set of first strike coins.”

According to the Mint, the loonie’s development involved several stages of evaluation, approval and production. 

Artists and engravers who were involved had to follow strict guidelines on the mandatory design requirements, such as the size, shape and orientation of the portrait, as well as the inclusion of the King’s name, title and motto. 

The design also had to be suitable for mass production and circulation.

According to the Mint, a $20 dollar bill is also currently in development but it could be years before it is unveiled. 

“At this stage, it is far too early to be more precise about when the design of the note will be unveiled and when the note will begin to circulate,” Bank of Canada spokesperson Rebecca Spence told CBC News. 

“The current $20 note will continue to circulate for years to come.”

A winning design was chosen by an internal Mint review panel, based on criteria such as aesthetics, technical feasibility and adherence to the brief. 

The design was then submitted to the Government of Canada and Buckingham Palace for their approval, before the Mint began the engraving and tooling process to create the dies for striking the coins.

The new coins featuring King Charles III will gradually replace the coins bearing the image of Queen Elizabeth II, who reigned for 69 years as Canada’s head of state. However, the Mint clarified that all coins currently in circulation remain legal tender, regardless of the change in monarchy.