World Stamps

By Denise McCarty

Great Britain souvenir sheet celebrates 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II

April 20, 2016 10:33 AM

  • Royal Mail’s souvenir sheet celebrating the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II on April 21 shows four generations of the queen’s family: her son Prince Charles, the queen, her great grandson Prince George, and her grandson Prince William. Ranald Mackechnie was commissioned by Royal Mail to take this photograph.

By Denise McCarty

Great Britain’s Royal Mail is issuing 10 stamps April 21 to celebrate the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.

Four of the stamps are in a souvenir sheet featuring four generations of the House of Windsor. The photograph was taken in the summer of 2015 in the White Drawing Room of Buckingham Palace.

Royal Mail kept the four-generation souvenir sheet and photograph a secret until April 20, the day before the queen’s birthday.

But after it was announced, the photograph was soon spreading over social media, including the British monarchy’s Instagram account.

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Many news and entertainment websites focused on the young Prince George. For example, the headline on the website of Entertainment Tonight read, “Prince George Poses for the Most Adorable Royal Family Portrait,” and USA Today exclaimed ”Prince George steals the show in royal family photo.” 

Royal Mail also provided the background story of the photo shoot by Ranald Mackechnie.

One challenge for Mackechnie was the height difference between the four members of the royal family.

Royal Mail explained: “For both aesthetic and technical reasons Prince George couldn’t be positioned much lower within the photograph. The position of each portrait within the miniature sheet was critical due to tight technical constraints.”

The solution was to stand the young prince on foam blocks that were part of Mackechnie’s photography equipment.

“Using the blocks enabled the Prince to be lifted into the frame so it was a more intimate grouping,” Royal Mail said.

As for Prince George’s reaction, Mackechnie told Gordon Rayner of the Telegraph newspaper: “He was absolutely charming, as you can see from the picture. You only have a short window of opportunity with small children, but Prince George was on good form and everyone seemed to enjoy seeing him enjoy the day.

“He was fascinated by my lights and all the kit, and he was quite happy standing on the blocks. I took maybe 80 or 100 shots, but when I saw this one I knew straight away that was it.”