In Memoriam

Royal Mail is issuing a set of four stamps on November 10 in memory of Queen Elizabeth II.

Born on April 21, 1926, Elizabeth came to the throne on February 6, 1952, on the death of her father King George VI. She died on September 8, 2022, at the age of 96.

On the throne for 70 years and 214 days, she was the longest reigning monarch in British history, and the second-longest in verifiable world history.

She was Queen regnant of a total of 32 sovereign states during her lifetime, and 15 at the time of her death, and her portrait has appeared on far more stamp designs than anyone else.

All four stamps in the In Memoriam set feature photographic portraits that were previously used in the 2002 Golden Jubilee issue, showing close-up studies of the Queen at different stages of her life.

The images have been slightly recropped and given a black border and the inscription ‘1926-2022’. They also appear to have been reproduced in a greyer, less sepia tone.

Two of the designs have the same face value as in the 2002 issue, and two of them different values, all expressed in a different typeface.

There was a fifth stamp in the Golden Jubilee set, which is not part of this issue.

These are the first stamps from Royal Mail to have been approved by King Charles III. Two decades ago, of course, the images were approved by the Queen herself.

The stamps were designed by Kate Stephens and Royal Mail Group, and printed in litho by International Security Printers, in counter sheets of 50.

2nd class PORTRAIT FROM 1952
Detail of a photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding in 1952 to celebrate the Queen’s accession. This image was also used for the 2nd class design in 2002.

Elizabeth II posed for Wilding no fewer than 59 times, and one of the other portraits was used on definitive and commemorative stamps from 1952-67.

1st class PORTRAIT FROM 1968
Detail of a photograph taken by Cecil Beaton in 1968, of the Queen standing in her admiral’s cloak. This image was also used for the 1st class design in 2002.

Beaton showed this photograph in his first major retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery in London, stating that he wanted to ‘try something different’, without the familiar regal trappings such as tiaras and jewels.

£1.85 PORTRAIT FROM 1984
Detail of a photograph taken by Yousuf Karsh in 1984. This image was used for the 45p value in 2002.

Karsh was a Canadian-Armenian renowned as one of the greatest portrait photographers of the 20th century. He also took perhaps the most famous photo of Winston Churchill in 1941, which was the used for the Churchill Commemoration stamp issue of 1965.

£2.55 PORTRAIT FROM 1996
Detail of a photograph taken by Tim Graham in 1996. This image was used for the 65p value in 2002.

The photo was taken while the Queen was attending a banquet at Prague Castle during a visit to the Czech Republic. Graham is also known for a series of informal portraits of Princess Diana.

The set is also available in a presentation pack and on first day covers, with a choice of two postmarks. A set of stamp cards is offered as usual.

Set of 4 stamps £6.03
Presentation pack £6.95
Stamp cards £1.80
First day cover £7.90

Queen Elizabeth II was almost universally admired, and her passing is the end of an era

The images may be recycled, but they are wonderful photographs of a monarch looking both regal and radiant

Hopefully many people will use these stamps on everyday mail, to remind us all of what we have lost