World Stamps

Royal celebrations: European monarchs and their families on stamps

May 3, 2021, 4 AM

By Denise McCarty

Ever since Great Britain pictured Queen Victoria on the world's first postage stamp issued in 1840, royalty has been a popular topic for postal commemoration. Several recent stamps honor European royalty.

For example, Norway issued a stamp Jan. 11 to mark the 25th anniversary of the reign of King Harald V. He ascended to the throne Jan. 18, 1991.

The 17-krone stamp features the consecration of King Harald at Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, on June 23, 1991. Based on a photograph by Bjorn Sigurdson, the design shows the hand of Bishop Finn Wagle on the king’s head. Queen Sonja is standing behind the king.

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The website of the Royal House of Norway, described the consecration ceremony as “a solemn, ecclesiastical blessing of the King in the performance of his royal duties. In more recent times the Queen has been consecrated as well.”

Jorn O. Jontvedt designed this commemorative stamp. Joh. Enschede of the Netherlands printed it by offset.


Luxembourg issued two stamps March 3 to celebrate the 60th birthday of Grand Duchess Maria Teresa.

Maria Teresa was born in Cuba March 22, 1956, to Jose Antonio Mestre and Maria Teresa Batista y Falla de Mestre. The family left Cuba in 1959 for the United States, later moving to Spain and then to Switzerland.

Maria Teresa met Henri, then hereditary grand duke of Luxembourg, while studying at the University of Geneva. The couple married Feb. 14, 1981, and Henri ascended to the throne Oct. 7, 2000.

The couple have five children. The two youngest, Princess Alexandra (born Feb. 16, 1991) and Prince Sebastien (born April 16, 1992) are pictured with their mother on one of the two new 0.70 stamps.

The other stamp features a photograph of Grand Duchess Maria Teresa by herself.

Carole Bellaiche took the two photographs shown on the stamps. Philaposte of France printed the stamps se-tenant (side-by-side) in panes of 10.

The grand duchess is known for her humanitarian work, including serving as a UNESCO goodwill ambassador since 1997.


A pane of stamps from Belgium features its royal family, especially the children.

Issued March 14, the pane includes 10 nondenominated first-class stamps with five different designs.

The first four stamps show the children arranged in chronological order starting on the left: Princess Elisabeth (born Oct. 25, 2001), Prince Gabriel (Aug. 20, 2003), Prince Emmanuel (Oct. 4, 2005) and Princess Eleonore (April 16, 2008).

The fifth stamp depicts a family portrait of King Philippe, Queen Mathilde and their four children. The same photo is shown enlarged in the selvage of the pane.

Christian Lambiotte took all of the photographs on the grounds of the royal palace. Myriam Voz designed the stamp pane, and Belgium’s national printer printed it by offset.


A souvenir sheet issued March 17 by Sweden commemorates two royal anniversaries and also shows the order of succession.

Britt-Inger Hahne, head of stamps for PostNord (the joint postal administration of Sweden and Denmark), said: “This year King Carl Gustaf is celebrating his 70th birthday and Queen Silvia has been our Queen for 40 years. We are celebrating these occasions with a minisheet, where we will also see Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Estelle, who, together with the King, represent the order of succession.”

The three nondenominated domestic-rate stamps in the souvenir sheet reproduce photographs of the royal family taken by Anna-Lena Ahlstrom in the east vault at the royal palace in Stockholm.

King Carl Gustaf is pictured on the stamp on the right. Born April 30, 1946, he became head of state Sept. 15, 1973, at age 27. He had met Silvia Sommerlath the previous summer at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, and the couple married June 19, 1976.

Queen Silvia is featured on the stamp on the left side of the souvenir sheet.

The center stamp depicts the king; Crown Princess Victoria, the heir apparent; and Victoria’s oldest child, Princess Estelle (born Feb. 23, 2012), who is third in line to the throne.

Daniel Bjugard designed the souvenir sheet. It was printed by offset.

Queen Elizabeth

Several postal administrations have announced plans to issue stamps celebrating the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II (born April 21, 1926).

Most of these stamps show photographs of the queen taken throughout her life. For instance, Jersey is issuing a set of 10 stamps April 21 featuring photos of the queen and her family taken from the 1920s through 2015.

A 48-penny stamp pictures the young princesses Elizabeth (then age 5) and her sister Margaret (10 months) with their parents.

The £1.29 high denomination of the set shows the queen with two younger generations of the royal family: grandsons Harry and William; great-grandson George; and William’s wife and George’s mother Kate Middleton, the duchess of Cambridge. The group is standing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, watching the Trooping the Colour parade.

The queen’s children, her husband Prince Philip, and even her pet corgis are depicted on other stamps in the set from Jersey.

Great Britain’s Royal Mail also is scheduled to issue stamps for the queen’s 90th birthday on April 21, but the designs have not been revealed.

Australia commemorated the royal birthday on two stamps issued April 5. While the $1 domestic-rate stamp shows a portrait of the queen, the $2.75 international-rate stamp pictures one of her brooches.

Comprised of 150 white and yellow diamonds, the brooch was presented to the queen in 1954 as a gift from the people and government of Australia.

The queen is seen wearing the Australian Golden Wattle diamond brooch in the photograph reproduced on the $1 stamp.

Gibraltar issued nine Queen Elizabeth 90th Birthday stamps Feb. 19. Designed by Stephen Perea, the stamps feature various photographs of the queen from Getty Images and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The £5 high denomination in the set pictures the queen on her coronation day. This image is shown in color, while the photographs on the other stamps are displayed in black and white.

A set of eight stamps issued Feb. 6 by the Isle of Man showcase the work of Arthur Edwards, who served as the royal photographer for The Sun newspaper for almost 40 years.

A presentation pack offered by the Isle of Man Post Office includes a card with information from Edwards explaining why he selected these photographs of the queen to appear on the stamps and where they were taken.

Styles of the queen

In honor of the queen’s 90th birthday, the postal administrations of Ascension Island, Bahamas, British Antarctic Territory, British Virgin Islands, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and Tristan da Cunha are joining together in an omnibus stamp issue called 90 Years of Style.

The omnibus was arranged by their new-issue agent, Pobjoy Mint of Surrey, England.

As the name 90 Years of Style suggests, the stamps focus on fashions the queen has worn over the decades. In announcing the series, Pobjoy Mint said: “To this day the Queen remains the centre of attention wherever she goes and is subject to critical assessment every time she appears in public. The pressure of such scrutiny must be phenomenal yet there has never been a wardrobe malfunction nor a fashion faux pas. Her impeccable style has ensured her place as an icon of fashion.”

Each postal administration will issue five stamps April 21, four of them in panes of 10 and one in a souvenir sheet.