The Royal Bank of England has unveiled its latest new note now completing its switch from paper to plastic polymer notes. In late March 2021, the bank announced the new Fifty Pound note would shortly be released featuring the image of famous mathematician Alan Turing.
Turing was instrumental to the Allies victory in World War Two in his work as a codebreaker. His work went on to be fundamental in the development of computer science theory and he is widely acknowledged for his role in developing now familiar concepts like algorithms.
What should have been a story of Turing’s fantastically successful technological advancements however is marred by tragedy. Turing died by overdose in 1954 at the far too soon age of 41 years old. His death was categorised as suicide though there are those that dispute this claim. Things turned sour for Turing after he was outed as a homosexual and prosecuted as one.
In 1952 Turing was accused of indecency with a 19 year old man and subjected to forced sterilisation as punishment. The shame and trauma from the ordeal sent him into a downward spiral. After his death he was pardoned by the Queen, and his story made into Hollywood fodder in the 2014 release The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
Turing now features on the new Fifty Pound note song with the ominous quote: “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.”
Whilst only a small number of people currently report needing to use the Fifty Pound note, it is thought circulation of the tender will increase as inflation continues to cause the deflation of the British pound.
Further concerns surrounding the use of currency come as a result of the ongoing coronavirus global pandemic of COVID-19 and people’s reluctance to use cash.