Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom on Sept. 9, exceeding Queen Victoria’s reign of 63 years and 216 days. Great Britain’s Royal Mail is celebrating the occasion with a souvenir sheet of five stamps, including a new definitive (regular-issue) stamps.
The designs of the stamps and souvenir sheet were kept secret until the Sept. 9 issue date. They are now available from Royal Mail.
The nondenominated first-class stamp in the middle of the souvenir sheet is the new definitive. For the next year, this purple stamp will replace the current red Queen Elizabeth II stamp. The text under this stamp in the souvenir sheet reads, “Arnold Machin’s iconic profile of HM The Queen was introduced in 1967.” The stamps are nicknamed the Machins.
The iridescent overprint on the stamp reads, “Long to Reign Over Us.” This stamp also is being sold separately in booklets.
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Two other stamps in the souvenir sheet also are related to previous British stamps, including the first stamp issued in May 1840.
The nondenominated first-class stamp on the far left shows queens Victoria and Elizabeth together. Royal Mail said of this design: “William Wyon’s City Medal, featuring the head of Queen Victoria, commemorated her first visit to London. The image on the Penny Black (the world’s first postage stamp) was based on this portrait, which in turn was based on a sketch of Princess Victoria when she was 15 years old.”
The next stamp, which also pays the first-class rate, pictures Dorothy Wilding’s three-quarter profile photograph of Queen Elizabeth. This design appeared on British postage stamps from 1952 until 1967.
The first of the two £1.52 stamp depicts the Badge of the House of Windsor. In use since 1938, it features the Round Tower of Windsor Castle flying the royal standard.
The design of the queen’s personal flag is illustrated on the final stamp. This gold “E” with a crown, surrounded by a garland of roses, symbolizes the queen's role as head of the Commonwealth.
Australia, Canada, and Jersey also issued stamps Sept. 9 celebrating the royal anniversary, and several issued stamps earlier, including Gibraltar on May 30 and Isle of Man on June 18. New Zealand plans to issue seven stamps and a souvenir sheet Oct. 7.
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