By Corinne Galloway, Senior Curator, The Postal Museum

As Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Platinum Jubilee in 2022 Corinne Galloway, Senior Curator at The Postal Museum delved into their collections to discover how the life and service of Queen Elizabeth II was marked in stamps over the seventy years of her reign.

1952: Queen Elizabeth II ascends the throne

Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne after the passing of her father King George VI on 6 February 1952. Work on a new portrait of The Queen which could be used on the first coins, banknotes and stamps of her reign began straight away. Royal Photographer, Dorothy Wilding was commissioned to take a new photograph of The Queen for use on stamps. This striking image featured on all stamps in the UK until 1967.

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Wilding Low Values. Issued July & August 1953

1953: The Queen’s Coronation

Although she became Queen in 1952, her formal Coronation wasn’t held until June 2, 1953. Crowds gathered in London to catch a glimpse of the Coronation Procession as The Queen was crowned at Westminster Abbey. It's estimated that 20 million people witnessed this moment on television. Among the many events marking the occasion was a set of special Coronation postage stamps. These were the first commemorative stamps to be issued during her reign.

1967: A new image of the Queen

All British stamps require the image of the monarch to appear. As more commemorative stamps, marking special occasions were created in the 1950s and 1960s stamp designers struggled to include The Queen’s image due its size and shape. So, in the early 1960s The Queen agreed to the creation of a new profile image and a new set of stamps.

A new photograph of The Queen was taken by John Hedgecoe. Sculptor, Arnold Machin used this to create his design for a new image in a plaster cast. Still in use since its issue on 5 June 1967, the image from this cast is thought to be one of the most reproduced of all time. His portrait of The Queen also featured on coins from 1968 to 1984.

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4d Machin definitive issued 5 June 1967

1977: The Silver Jubilee

Queen Elizabeth II was not the first monarch to reach a Silver Jubilee, however she is only the second to have a stamp to commemorate the event. The Queen achieved 25 years on the throne in 1977. Richard Guyatt designed a set of stamps to commemorate the occasion. The stamps featured a new portrait of The Queen flanked by the letters ‘E.R’ which stand for ‘Elizabeth Regina’.

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10p Silver Jubilee

2002: The Golden Jubilee

2002 marked 50 years on the throne. To mark this a special set of commemorative stamps were issued. Designed by Kate Stephens, these featured photographs of The Queen from throughout her life. These close-up images of The Queen conveyed a more intimate depiction of the monarch.

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45p, Golden Jubilee

2012: The Diamond Jubilee

Stephens was once again chosen to create stamps to mark 60 years of The Queen’s reign. The images used show the many roles of the Monarch both at home and abroad including her first ever Christmas television broadcast in 1957.

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Diamond Jubilee Set of Stamps

2022: The Platinum Jubilee

June 2022 marks 70 years on the throne and the longest reign of any British monarch in history. To mark the occasion a set of Platinum Jubilee Stamps were issued in February 2022. These eight new stamps were designed to celebrate The Queen’s many roles, from Trooping the Colour to visits across the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and beyond.

Two of the stamps show black-and-white photographs from the 1950s and 1960s. Another features The Queen in a blue outfit with matching hat in a picture from the 1977 silver jubilee celebrations.


Platinum Jubilee set of stamps

You can explore more of the fascinating stories behind iconic stamps from Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and more at The Postal Museum’s website.

All images in this blog are copyright of Royal Mail Group, courtesy of The Postal Museum

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