New King Charles III definitive stamps revealed


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08 February 2023
Royal Mail have revealed the image of new definitive stamp featuring the image of King Charles III. The design features an adapted version of the portrait created by Martin Jennings for the obverse of the new UK coinage and shows the new monarch facing to the left.

The long-awaited design of the new definitive stamps has finally been revealed, exactly five months after the sad passing of Queen Elizabeth II, who had appeared on British definitive stamps for decades.

The new stamps, which go on general sale from 4 April 2023, feature a portrait already seen on UK coinage, most notably on the latest 50p coins to be issued by The Royal Mint.

This new coin effigy was 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.

Simon Thompson, CEO, 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. 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.”

New stamps on display in London

The new 1st Class stamp will form part of an exhibition of Great Britain’s definitive stamps at the Postal Museum, London. Called ‘The King’s Stamp’, the exhibition coincides with the release of the new King Charles III 1st Class definitive stamp and runs from 8 February until 3 September 2023.

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The design and colour of the stamps

The King’s effigy appears alongside a barcode printed in matching colour alongside the main body of the stamp, separated by a simulated perforation line. The colours for all four values are retained from the Machin stamps:

  • 1st Class – Plum Purple
  • 2nd Class – Holly Green
  • 1st Class Large – Marine Turquoise
  • 2nd Class Large – Dark Pine Green

What happens to existing QE2 stamps?

You'll still be able to buy and use QE2 stamps.

Existing stocks of definitive stamps that feature Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth will be distributed and issued as planned and will remain valid for use in line with Royal Mail's recent transition to barcodes on definitive stamps.

Retailers will continue to sell their existing stocks of definitive stamps featuring Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth and be supplied with the new stamps when existing stocks at Royal Mail have been exhausted.

The link between coins and stamps

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

The portrait of Queen Victoria on the Penny Black was based on that designed by William Wyon, chief engraver at The Royal Mint, for the ‘City’ medal of 1838, which commemorated Queen Victoria’s first visit to the City of London the year before. 

During successive reigns, many artists worked on both coins and stamps or had their designs for the former adapted for use on the latter. In the 1960s, Arnold Machin created an effigy of The Queen for decimal coinage and then designed new definitive stamps, which became an iconic symbol of the United Kingdom around the world, reproduced billions of times. 

Further reading

How will collectors react to King Charles III stamps?
Cypher of King Charles III on new Guernsey stamps
Charles III cypher appears on first stamps
King Charles III stamps: what we know so far
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