World Stamps

Royal Mail reveals King Charles III definitive stamp

Feb 8, 2023, 12 AM
Great Britain’s Royal Mail revealed the image of the new King Charles III definitive stamp Feb. 8. King Charles will become the seventh monarch to appear on Britain’s definitive stamps when four new definitives are issued on April 4.

By David Hartwig

Great Britain’s Royal Mail revealed the image of the new King Charles III definitive stamp Feb. 8.

The stamps will go on general sale April 4, and customers can register their interest online, according to Royal Mail.

Royal Mail adapted the image showing the new monarch facing to the left from a portrait created by Martin Jennings for new coinage from the Royal Mint.

“The new coin effigy was carefully adjusted and digitally re-lit to make it suitable for use on definitive stamps, with the aim of creating a worthy successor to Arnold Machin’s classic image of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth,” Royal Mail said in the press release announcing the new definitives.

As with all new stamp designs, King Charles approved the new definitives.

Royal Mail will issue four values of the King Charles III definitives, with the colors retained from the Machin definitives that feature Queen Elizabeth II.

The first-class stamp will be plum purple, second-class will be holly green, first-class large will be marine turquoise, and second-class large will be dark pine green.

Each stamp has a barcode printed in a matching color and separated by a simulated wavy-line die cut. The barcode can be scanned with a smartphone.

Retailers will be supplied with the new stamps when existing stocks of Machins have been exhausted, Royal Mail said. To minimize environmental and financial impacts, existing stocks of Machins will be distributed and issued as planned.

There has been a close association between British coins and definitive stamps since the creation of the world’s first adhesive postage stamp, the Penny Black, in 1840.

The portrait of Queen Victoria on the Penny Black was based on a design by Royal Mint chief engraver William Wyon, and Arnold Machin created an effigy of Queen Elizabeth for decimal coinage before designing the definitive stamps that would become an iconic symbol reproduced billions of times. Introduced in 1967, the stamps are nicknamed Machins.

Seven monarchs have appeared on Great Britain’s definitive stamps, starting with Queen Victoria on the Penny Black, followed by Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI, Queen Elizabeth II and now King Charles III.

Simon Thompson, Royal Mail CEO, said: “Ever since the Penny Black was issued in the reign of Queen Victoria, British stamps have carried the image of the reigning monarch. The Definitive stamp has become a recognisable symbol of each reign. 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 be featured as part of an exhibition of Great Britain’s definitive stamps at the Postal Museum in London. The exhibition, called “The King’s Stamp,” runs now through Sept. 3.

Visitors to the exhibition will see rare stamps, including Queen Victoria’s Two Penny Blue and the unreleased King Edward VII’s Tyrian Plum.

Works from Edmund Dulac, Bertram Park and Dorothy Wilding will allow visitors to explore how stamps have been designed and produced, and visitors can discover how monarchs have influenced the process.

For information about the Postal Museum, visit online.

Connect with Linn’s Stamp News: 

    Sign up for our newsletter
    Like us on Facebook
    Follow us on Twitter