Letterboxes and Stamps: King Charles III

Following the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, many aspects of life that we have taken for granted during her 70-year reign are about to change. A large portion of the population has only ever known life under the Queen, so welcoming King Charles III as the new monarch will be a big adjustment.

As well as this being an emotional time, there are also practical changes afoot for Great Britain. Among the biggest impacts are the changes for Royal Mail in terms of stamps, as Charles’s portrait will be replacing the Queen’s in due course.

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Royal Mail has confirmed its current stamps, featuring the familiar profile of Queen Elizabeth II, will remain valid for customers’ use.

Before the Queen’s passing, some of the older-style stamps were already being replaced with new versions complete with barcodes. Now, all new stamps will be completely redesigned to present a profile of King Charles including regular everyday stamps, definitive stamps and special stamps.

No firm timescale has been given for the changes yet.

What other major changes will Royal Mail make?

Members of the British public have got used to being surrounded by various objects in our daily life that feature Queen Elizabeth II and her insignia. Now, these key objects must be redesigned and renamed in line with royal protocol, as Britain says goodbye to the second Elizabethan era.

Many iconic symbols of state that have borne Queen Elizabeth II’s image for 70 years will be changing as King Charles III ascends to the throne. Among the familiar items that are about to change are postboxes and currency.

While the Bank of England and the Royal Mint are dealing with the massive task of phasing out nearly 29 billion coins and 4.5 billion bank notes bearing Queen Elizabeth’s portrait, Royal Mail is facing its own challenges when it comes to postboxes.

The markings will no longer represent Queen Elizabeth, so while the existing ones will remain unchanged, the new ones must be redesigned.

Royal Mail has not made any definitive announcement about when, or how, the changes will be implemented, as a mark of respect for the royal family. The organisation said it would not be making any announcements until after Queen Elizabeth’s funeral had taken place on 19th September.

Following King Charles’s accession to the throne, the changes will gradually start to filter in. The only date that has been confirmed relates to stamps with the Queen’s face that don’t have a barcode. These will expire in January 2023 – they will no longer be valid for use after this date.

How will letter boxes change?

Letter boxes carry the royal cypher or monogram of the monarch who was on the throne when they were installed. The mail collection box at the royal residence, Windsor Castle, is still embellished with the royal cypher of King George VI, Britain’s monarch from 1936 until 1952.

Postboxes that are already in production displaying the insignia of Queen Elizabeth II will still be completed, while those that are awaiting installation will still be put in place as planned. However, when King Charles ascends to the throne, the royal cypher will alter. Currently, it is still personalised to the Queen, with her familiar “ER II” included in the design.

The cypher is used on all postboxes, so when the new one is designed recognising the new King Charles III, it will be used on all future letter boxes.

Royal Mail postboxes have carried the royal insignia of the reigning sovereign since they were first introduced in 1852. Currently, the Queen’s personal insignia features on more than 60% of the 115,000 across the UK. The other postboxes are older examples.

Royal Mail has confirmed further announcements on the changes will be made after the Queen’s funeral, following consultation with Buckingham Palace.