A New Reign

Royal Mail is celebrating the Coronation on May 6 with a miniature sheet of four stamps entitled His Majesty King Charles III: A New Reign.

The issue marks a significant departure from Britain’s two previous Coronation issues (for King George VI in 1937 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1953), both in style and in tone.

Most obviously, it is not being called a Coronation issue at all, and indeed only one of the four stamps focuses on the crowning of the monarch.

Moreover, gone is the grandeur, pageantry and heraldry of those earlier designs, largely replaced by down-to-earth scenes of everyday life, and evocations of causes which are close to the King’s heart.

Wood engravings help to give the images a more informal feel, but not necessarily a relaxed vibe. Instead, they are extremely busy with trade, industry, leisure and social activity.

The approach appears to have been heavily influenced by the priorities of the King himself, as the emphasis is firmly on people, community and the environment. Only the sheet border has echoes of previous heraldic issues, with its intermingling foliage of rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock symbolic of the four countries of the United Kingdom.

The issue was designed by Atelier Works, with specially commissioned artwork by the experienced stamp artist Andrew Davidson. It was printed in litho by Cartor Security Printers.

Representing the monarchy, continuity, heritage and tradition, this design depicts the moment of coronation, with the St Edward’s Crown being lowered onto the King’s head by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the background, fireworks appear over Westminster Abbey, a gun salute is fired, crowds watch the ceremony on television and communities celebrate with traditional street parties.

Reflecting Britain’s cultural diversity and multi-faith community, this design depicts figures representing the Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist religions.

The background shows aspects of both rural and urban living, including a variety of places of worship and styles of housing.

Suggesting an outward-looking Britain, promoting global trade, co-operation, democracy and peace, this design depicts a meeting of representatives from across the Commonwealth.

In the background, the flags of Commonwealth nations fly around a sports stadium, seaborne commerce is in full swing and a Commonwealth War Graves cemetery remembers joint sacrifices made in the world wars.

Highlighting the importance of conservation, biodiversity and working with nature, this design hails traditional rural crafts such as hedge-laying and beekeeping.

The background features sustainable farming methods and renewable sources of energy, such as hydroelectric power and solar panels, and eco-friendly transport, such as electric trains.

Diverse forests and wildflower meadows emphasise the importance of conserving wildlife, not least pollinating insects.

A press sheet of 16 unperforated and unguillotined miniature sheets is offered in a limited edition. A choice of first day covers includes three coin covers, and a presentation pack and stamp cards are available as usual.

Miniature sheet £6.60
Presentation pack £7.50
Press sheet £105.60
First day cover £8.60
Coin covers from£19.99
Stamp cards £2.25

Of all the royal events and occasions that should be marked by stamps, the coronation is the biggest and rarest

The wood-engraved illustrations are classy, distinctive and amazingly detailed. The closer you look, the more you see

There’s a welcome element of surprise in this set. It’s just a shame that miniature sheet stamps are rarely seen on our mail