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Dei Gratia

Dei Gratia is Latin for 'By the Grace of God', and can be found on many coins around the world, and on UK coins in particular.

Dei Gratia Regina – often abbreviated to 'D. G. Regina' – translates from Latin to 'By the grace of God, Queen'. The Regina variation of Dei Gratia is well known today following the long reign of Queen Elizabeth II, but for many years 'Dei Gratia Rex' was used for the Kings of England. Dei Gratia Rex translates to, 'By the Grace of God, King'. The phrase Dei Gratia be found found on the obverse of many UK coins, in various forms.

Dei Gratia meaning

'By the grace of God' – in Latin 'Dei Gratia' – is an ecclesiastical motto which refers to the historic concept of a monarch's divine right to rule. According to this belief, a monarch is chosen by God to rule over a country. This means the monarch then is answerable only to God; he or she is not subject to the wishes of the people, aristocrats, or government.

Dei Graita has been used on coins for centuries; the Roman and Byzantine Empire both stamped the phrase on their coins as a sign of the ruler’s divine right to rule. Today, the phrase Dei Gratia is taken less literally, and generally means that the monarch has been chosen by God, and reflects the Queen’s role as head of the Church of England.

Dei Gratia coins

Various nations, with a monarch as head of state, have used this Latin phrase on their currency. This includes the United Kingdom, and many Commonwealth nations, plus Spain and Sweden.

Two coins showing variations of the 'Dei Gratia' phrase.

Spanish coins with Dei Gratia include, Carolus (Charles) III and IV, Colonial 1/2, 1, 2, 4, and 8 Reales from 1772 to 1808 (as seen above on the left). Swedish coins during the reigns of Queen Christina and Karl XI also carry the inscription. Current Swedish coins, however, do not.

In 1849, the Florin was introduced as a tenth of a pound, or two shillings. It was an early attempt at decimalisation. This first Florin did not carry the usual phrase of Dei Gratia, and this caused a furore; earning it the nickname of the 'godless' Florin.

The 'Godless Florin', a Victorian Florin coin which is missing 'Dei Gratia'.

The first, 1849, Florin omitted the ‘Dei Gratia’ inscription. This earned it the nickname of the ‘Godless’ Florin.

In the UK, since 2015, the phrase has been extended to 'Elizabeth II Dei Gratia Regina Fidei Defensatrix'. This is abbreviated to 'Elizabeth II·Dei·Gra·Reg·Fid·Def'. It translates as 'Reigning by the Grace of God, Defender of the Faith.'

It appears on the obverse (heads) of various coins and is followed with the date. This includes current circulating currency coins; £2, £1, 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p and 1p.

The current 12-sided pound coin with the initials D.G for Dei Gratia.

Current £1 showing D·G·REG·F·D inscription: Dei Gratia Regina Fidei Defensatrix – ‘Reigning by the grace of God, Defender of the Faith.’

The inscription also appears on many bullion coins. These are legal tender coins, and continue the tradition of stamping Dei Gratia (or D·G) on the obverse.

A gold Britannia coin with D.G.REG stamped on the obverse for Dei Gratia Regina.

Gold Britannias are the most popular one ounce gold coin for larger UK based private investors, as they are Capital Gains Tax Free. With a face value of £100.00, the current 24-carat, Britannia also carries the 'D·G·REG·F·D' inscription.

Gold Britannia, Sovereign and £5 coins, plus silver Britannia coins, are amongst just some of the current bullion coins that carry the legend 'Dei Gratia' to this day, continuing this long standing tradition.