By The Royal Mint ……

The Royal Mint is to unleash a range of commemorative coins celebrating the Red Dragon of Wales – one of 10 heraldic ‘Queen’s Beasts’ that can be seen cropping up through centuries of British Heraldry. Each beast has its own special story to tell and this collection from The Royal Mint explores The Queen’s heraldic guardians, and what they stand for.

The Red Dragon of Wales

The coin for The Red Dragon of Wales, struck at The Royal Mint’s home in South Wales, captures the spirit and beauty of the Welsh nation. Dragons are one of the best known mythical beasts, found in legends all over the world, and are associated with strength, wisdom and power. The Red Dragon was an emblem of Owen Tudor, the grandfather of Henry VII. Henry’s troops carried a fiery red dragon standard at the Battle of Bosworth. More than four centuries later, at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, the dragon took its place as one of The Queen’s Beasts, reinforcing Her Majesty’s connection to Wales.

Unusually, the coin designs on both sides are by the same designer, Jody Clark, who is a member of The Royal Mint design team. Jody is best known for his ‘fifth portrait’ of The Queen that has been seen on UK coinage since 2015, but has also researched British heraldry to come up with his Queen’s Beasts designs.

“I wanted the beasts in the collection to feel fantastical but also have realistic elements,” Jody said. “I think the static shield at the centre of the coin gives a contrast to the beast, with the dragon’s tail and claws curling around the shield giving the design a sense of movement.

“Although the dragon isn’t a real creature, I could still take inspiration from real animals. I researched lizards, crocodiles and snakes and tried lots of different approaches until I got the look I wanted. The dragon’s wings were difficult to create; they’re almost skin-like so looking at bats helped with that.”

Thomas Lloyd, The Wales Herald of Arms Extraordinary writes:

“The dragon is one of the oldest and best known of all mythical beasts, drawn on as often today as in the far distant past. From Western Europe to China and Japan, it appears in different forms, lizard-like and fire-breathing in the East and in the West upstanding and muscular, its tongue like an arrow, standing for strength, speed and power beyond human ability, intended to strike terror into its enemies.

The Red Dragon has especially become the emblem of ancient Welsh pride, emerging from heroic traditions of King Arthur and his father Uther Pendragon, to become a Royal Beast of the Tudor monarchs, supporting the coat of arms of that proud Welsh dynasty. From there it has become the emblem of the modern Welsh nation, resplendent on the Welsh flag against a background of white and green, the livery colors of the Tudor sovereigns. In this form also, it is Her Majesty the Queen’s Royal Badge for Wales, encircled with a riband bearing the motto: “Y Ddraig Goch Ddyry Cychwyn” (The Red Dragon Gives The Lead”), so that the Red Dragon today retains its significance as a Royal Beast no less than in centuries past.”

The coin is available in a range of finishes, from Brilliant Uncirculated to Silver Proof and Gold Proof. The largest Red Dragon coins are the 10cm wide Gold and Silver Kilo coins – the Kilo is Britain’s largest official coin – which retail at £49,995.00 (gold) and £2,050.00 (silver). The range starts with the Brilliant Uncirculated collectable £5 coin, RRP £13.00. The Red Dragon of Wales is the third creature to appear in The Royal Mint’s commemorative ‘Queen’s Beasts’ range following the launch of The Unicorn of Scotland and The Lion of England.

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