New King Charles III stamps unveiled – but a limited number will be released first
The first stamp featuring King Charles III will likely be a much-wanted addition to collectors’ albums.
However, those hoping to get their hands on it as soon as it goes on sale may be disappointed.
Under instructions from Buckingham Palace, the new stamp will not be widely circulated until current stocks, featuring the late Queen Elizabeth II, have been exhausted.
Royal Mail said that the move was to minimise the “environmental and financial impact” of the change of monarch.
The new definitive stamp will be available from April 4.
Often referred to as the “everyday” stamp, it features the monarch’s head and value of the stamp on a plain coloured background.
Royal Mail could not confirm how many of the late Queen’s stamps were still in storage, but confirmed their use was likely to extend past the Coronation in May.
However, private buyers will be able to purchase the new stamps online from April 4 and can register their interest from Wednesday.
Historically, it has been commonplace for stamps and coins featuring the effigies of different monarchs to circulate at the same time.
The image of the King is an adapted version of the portrait created by Martin Jennings, the renowned British sculptor, for the Royal Mint. The new 50p coins, featuring the King’s head facing to the left of the coin, entered circulation on Dec 8 2022.
The effigy of the King, which has been adjusted and digitally re-lit making it suitable for use on definitive stamps, appears alongside a printed barcode separated by a simulated perforation line.
Royal Mail transitioned to stamps with barcodes last year to connect “physical stamps to the digital world” as part of a modernisation drive.
The colours for all four values have been retained from the previous definitive stamp featuring the classic image of the late Queen: plum purple for first-class stamps, holly green for second class, marine turquoise for large first-class stamps and dark pine green for large second-class stamps.
The King becomes the seventh monarch to appear on a definitive stamp. The first was Queen Victoria who appeared on the famous Penny Black in 1840, followed by Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI and his late mother.
It has been traditional for artists to work on both coins and stamps, or for the coinage designs to be adapted for use on definitives. Arnold Machin’s representation of the Queen in the Sixties became an iconic symbol of the UK around the world.
Simon Thompson, the chief executive of Royal Mail, said: “Ever since the Penny Black was issued in the reign of Queen Victoria, British stamps have carried the image of the reigning monarch.
“Uniquely, British stamps do not have the country of origin printed on them as the image of the monarch is sufficient.
“So today is a hugely important milestone for Royal Mail and the country as we reveal the image of the new King Charles Definitive.”
The new first-class stamp will form part of an exhibition of the UK’s definitive stamps at the Postal Museum in London, offering a “unique chance” to see a sheet of the King’s first-class stamps before they enter public circulation.