Royal Wedding coins feature informal portraits of Prince William and Catherine Middleton that "capture the sense of friendship, the sense of spontaneity"
The coins commemorating the April 29th wedding of Prince (and likely future King) William and Catherine Middleton continue a tradition that began with his father's—Prince Charles--1981 wedding to Princess Diana. In 1981, the British Royal Mint (now known as the Royal Mint) issued commemorative 25 Pence coins in copper-nickel and silver featuring conjoined portraits of the newlyweds. While no coins were issued for the wedding of (then) Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1947, five pound face value coins commemorating the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were struck by the Royal Mint in 1997 in both silver and copper-nickel.
A spokesperson for the Royal Mint indicates that "This official Royal Wedding £5 coin is destined to be one of the most popular ever in our long history." That's saying a lot, since the Royal Mint was established over 1,000 years ago.
A Royal Mint committee composed of experts in history, design, heraldry and art chose the design of the Prince William-Catherine Middleton wedding coins, created by Mark Richards, who is regarded as one of the UK's finest portrait sculptors. In 2008, Richards created full figure portraits of The Queen and Prince Philip for the Royal Enclosure at Ascot Racecourse. The sculptor has indicated that "My aim in portrait sculpture is to present a sensitive and immediate likeness within a balanced and elegant composition. Success entails unlocking the essence of my subject. I think [the wedding coin] has captured the sense of friendship, the sense of spontaneity, I've gone for very informal portraits, the idea that you've just caught them in the middle of something."
As with all current British coins, the obverse features the classic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley.
The Royal Mint says they've already received thousands of pre-orders of the coin, and are getting a lot of interest ranging from countries like Australia and Japan to the United States and Germany. Official United States distributor Panda America is offering two versions of the Prince William-Catherine Middleton Royal Wedding £5 coins: Brilliant Uncirculated, cupro-nickel (38.61mm, 28.28 gm.), housed in a beautiful, specially designed informative presentation folder, limited to 250,000 worldwide, priced at $19.95 each, and Proof Sterling Silver (38.61mm, 28.28 gm., .925 fine), housed in a classic white leatherette box with a Certificate of Authenticity, limited to 50,000 worldwide, priced at $99.