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British queen's portrait to go out of Fiji notes

Posted on Nov 29, 06:44PM | IANS

Signifying an end of an era, Fiji's central bank will remove the portrait of British Queen Elizabeth II from all banknotes and coins in Fiji in 2013, and replace it with local flora and fauna, the bank said Thursday.

Barry Whiteside, governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, said members of the British royal family have featured on Fijian currency since 1934, and the south Pacific island nation with a population of around 870,000 was "grateful" to have had the privilege of this association for well over 78 years.

A new series of banknotes and coins will be released in January 2013, Xinhua reported.

While it was "sad" to see the transition taking place, Whiteside said it was time to move forward and promote Fiji's unique national treasure and biodiversity.

A "Currency Design Committee" of eminent Fijians is overseeing the selection of designs. Work on the designs started in February 2010 during the UN declared "Year of Biodiversity", Whiteside said.

Earlier this year, the Fijian government also scrapped an annual public holiday celebrating the British queen's official birthday, because it was "no longer relevant".

Declared a British colony in 1874, Fiji gained independence in 1970 and became a republic in 1987.