Edward VII

The stamps of the British Commonwealth had a tradition of portraying only the ruling monarch. This tradition continued right up through the early Queen Elizabeth era and now most British Commonwealth stamps have the Queen’s portrait along with some commemorative design. In the 171 years of philatelic issues there have only been five monarchs on British Commonwealth stamps. After 61 years of philatelic fame Queen Victoria was replaced on the throne by her son King Edward VIII. This was the first royal transition in philately and there was no tradition over how it would be handled. Would the current issues continue to be on sale until the supplies were exhausted? Would the Victoria issues be reprinted until there was a call for new rates and new issues? The decision that was made that the older monarch’s stamps would be replaced as soon as was expedient with new stamps picturing the current reigning monarch.

 Throughout the Commonwealth hundreds of stamp plates had to be redesigned, millions of stamps recalled and destroyed, and new stamps issued and distributed. This became the protocol for the succession of George V, George VI and Queen Elizabeth and will no doubt be the case when Elizabeth gives up the throne. There is no world wide event with as much philatelic impact as the change in the monarch of Great Britain. The only reason that we are unaware of it today is that the Commonwealth has had the same monarch now for nearly sixty years.

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