The figurehead represented the character of the whole ship. A great amount of care and expense was given to its design and construction. The figurehead at launch was very elaborate. In 1803 it was found to be very rotten and replaced with a much simpler design. You can see a scale replica of the original in the Victory Gallery.
The current figurehead is a modern replica of the one carried at Trafalgar. It was fitted in 1992, but removed in 2009 because of its poor condition. This demonstrates the challenge of caring for wooden structures left out in the wind and rain.