- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Britain’s Royal Mail unveiled Wednesday new stamp designs showing a crown-less King Charles III, the first change of the monarch’s portrait in 70 years.

The new regular stamps — with a barcode strip attached to track letters through the mail system — show the monarch with what some say is a hint of a smile.

The postal agency said Charles’ image is “an adapted version” of the Martin Jennings portrait created for new British coins showing the monarch.

The stamps go on sale April 4, one month before the May 6 coronation. Postage bearing the image of the late Queen Elizabeth II will continue to be sold at retail outlets until stocks are exhausted, Royal Mail said. Unlike the late monarch, whose image faced right, Charles’ portrait faces left, a traditional shift when reigns change.

“Today is a hugely important milestone for Royal Mail and the country as we reveal the image of the new King Charles Definitive” postage stamp, said CEO Simon Thompson. 

Charles is the seventh monarch to appear on British postage stamps. Because the nation introduced stamps to the world in 1840, the stamps bear only an image of the sovereign or a cipher.

Historian Matthew Dennison, who published acclaimed biographies of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II, said the new stamps are evocative of the no-frills design released during the abortive reign of King Edward VIII, who abdicated 11 months after his accession in 1936.

“The difference is in the presentation of the two men: Edward — King Emperor of quarter of the globe’s population — appears serious and unsmiling, in line with contemporary views of royalty’s august mission; the [new] King smiles gently, a much more benign, ‘human’ image, pointing to the King’s desire that his be a more accessible monarchy,” he said via email.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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