From 1985 to 1997, UK circulating coins were struck bearing a royal portrait by the sculptor Raphael Maklouf. The couped portrait – cut off at the neck – shows The Queen with the royal diadem which she wears on her way to and from the State Opening of Parliament. Unlike the Gillick and Machin portraits of The Queen, Raphael Maklouf’s portrait also included a necklace and earrings. Having been accused by some of sculpting The Queen ‘flatteringly young’, the artist responded that such critics had misunderstood his intention which was ‘to create a symbol, regal and ageless’.
A close examination reveals the artist’s initials, RDM, on the truncation of the neck. The inclusion of the middle letter – for David – was to ensure that the signature would not be misinterpreted as a reference to The Royal Mint.
There is a long-standing urban myth that the first bi-colour £2 coins – bearing the Maklouf portrait and dated 1997 – are rare and valuable. But given that more than 13 million of these coins were issued, this is certainly not the case.