The first stamps featuring King Charles III’s silhouette are to go on sale, with the historic floral set a nod to the green-fingered monarch’s love of gardening.
Charles’s uncrowned profile, in silver and facing to the right in the top left hand corner, appears on a collection of 10 special stamps celebrating the nation’s favourite flowers.
Unlike Queen Elizabeth II’s famous silhouette, the King is not depicted wearing a laurel wreath. Royal Mail said the debut was a significant milestone in British philatelic history.
The late Queen’s silhouette – with her laurel wreath – has featured on special stamps since 1966.
An updated design by David Gentleman was used from 1968, adapted from Mary Gillick’s original cameo portrait of the monarch used on coins. The final set using the Queen’s image was unveiled last month in honour of the 100th anniversary of steam locomotive the Flying Scotsman.
David Gold, Royal Mail’s director of external affairs and policy, said: “Britain is a nation of gardeners, and a love of flowers runs deep in our collective consciousness. His Majesty is known to be a passionate gardener and we are delighted that the first special stamps to feature his silhouette should be a celebration of some of the most popular flowers in British gardens.”
The delicate sweet pea – one of the late Queen’s favourite blooms – is among the chosen flowers, photographed in detail on a white background. Another celebrates the sunflower – also the national flower of Ukraine which has become a symbol of solidarity with the war-torn country.
The other flowers in the first class set are a purple iris, a pink lily, a fuchsia, an orange-red tulip, a dark pink peony, a bright orange nasturtium, a pale pink rose and a light purple-tinted dahlia.
The creation of the King’s silhouette was a collaboration between illustrator Andrew Davidson, Royal Mail’s head of design and editorial and Marcus James, and Ian Chilvers, from design agency Atelier Works.
After Davidson – known for his illustrations of Ted Hughes’s children’s book The Iron Man – created a likeness of Charles that would work in miniature on a stamp, the image was then digitised and fine-tuned.
Royal Mail and Atelier Works focused on visual adjustments and tests to ensure the silhouette would work at the tiny dimensions required.
The final image was adjusted to ensure a likeness to the King’s image on the definitive ‘everyday’ stamp.
The definitive stamps, which were unveiled last month and go on sale in April, show Charles’ head and neck – without a crown – traditionally facing left as all monarchs have done since the Penny Black in 1840. Silhouettes can face left or right depending on the chosen design of the special stamps.
Charles, who is well known for his love of nature, is a keen hands-on gardener, who has spent more than 40 years transforming the grounds around Highgrove House – his private Gloucestershire retreat.
At his mother’s funeral, the King chose flowers cut from the gardens of Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Highgrove for the gold, pink, deep burgundy and white wreath which rested on her coffin, and included pink garden roses and dark purple dahlias.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Flowers mark our celebrations, our joys and our sorrows and, above all, they unify us through a pleasure that we can all understand.”
The first class floral stamps are available to pre-order from March 14 at www.royalmail.com/flowers and on 03457 641 641.
A presentation pack of the 10 stamps goes on general sale from March 23 and are priced at £10.40.
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