Saturday, 3 August 2013

2013 leaves its stamp on history

Stamp collectors with a royal section for their albums might be in need of a few extra pages this year as the string of abdications, accessions, births, special birthdays and anniversaries continues to pick up steam as we head through late summer and into early autumn..  Latest on this list is the Swedish post office with a special stamp to mark the 40th anniversary of the reign of Carl XVI Gustaf.

The stamps being issued to mark 40 years since the accession of Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden who became king on September 15th 1973.  They point to the future with one image showing the king and his heiresses, Victoria who will be followed by Estelle.

Just weeks before that anniversary, we'll get the first special stamp to mark the accession of the new King of the Belgians.  Philippe became monarch on July 21st 2013 but the Belgian postal service will bring out the first of two special commemorative stamps on September 2nd this year. It will feature the outgoing king, Albert II, and the new monarch in an already well known photograph of the two men.

The two kings of the Belgians - Albert and Philippe are all smiles and in synch on this first stamp to mark the handover of power

The next set, featuring the new king, are expected out in November 2013. And stamp collectors will be aiming to grab them as soon as possible to complete a kingly set of three from Belgium.  At the beginning of the year, a commemorative edition to mark 20 years of the reign of King Albert II was released.  Technically the king didn't make it to a whole two decades on the throne as he abdicated just days before the actual anniversary of his accession.  Whether that increases the value of that set remains to be seen.

What's a few days between friends?  Stamps released to mark the 20 year reign of Albert II before he abdicated a week or so shy of completing his second decade
The stamps planned to mark Philippe's accession will also feature his queen consort, Mathilde, but this won't be the first special stamp in her honour released this year.  In January, Belgians got the chance to stick her face on their letters when a stamp was released to mark her 40th birthday.

Mathilde, now Queen of the Belgians, on a stamp released earlier this year to mark her 40th birthday

Mathilde will be vying for space in stamp collectors' albums everywhere with her good friend and fellow rookie queen, Maxima of the Netherlands.  The Dutch postal service is working on official stamps to mark the accession of Willem-Alexander and his consort who took the crown in April 2013.  Current estimates put the release date as early autumn and it's rumoured the stamps will feature images from their accession day.  When Queen Beatrix announced her abdication in February this year, a special set of stamps to mark the changeover was issued.  Low key and honouring both outgoing queen and incoming king, they will be just the first set commemorating this major event in Dutch royal history.

The smiles belong to a mother and her son, the images represent a queen and her successor

In the UK, a set of six stamps were issued by the Royal Mail to mark the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II which fell on June 2nd 2013.  The images showed the Queen in different stages of her reign and followed another set released last year to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

One of the special stamps released by the Royal Mail in 2013 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation
And returning to the royal magic number of 40, Norwegians can now add a picture of the Crown Prince and Princess to the top corner of their envelopes after a portrait of the couple was added to a stamp to celebrate the fact they both turn forty this summer.

The happy ever after of the Cinderella of Kristiansand is shown on this stamp to mark her 40th birthday.  Her husband of 11 years also turns 40 this summer.  They are shown here with their two children, Ingrid Alexandra and Sverre Magnus, and the son Mette-Marit had before she was married, Marius

But some royal events just don't get a stamp.  Princess Madeleine of Sweden is far enough removed from the throne not to merit a special issue for her wedding.  That honour was reserved for big sister, Victoria, who featured on several stamps when she tied the knot with Daniel Westling in 2010.

Chris O'Neill must be quite pleased there were no special stamps for his wedding to Princess Madeleine - the groom came out very badly on this set for Victoria and Daniel's marriage in 2010.
And Prince George of Cambridge will probably have to wait to make it onto a stamp for the first time.  The Royal Mail doesn't normally issue commemorative editions to mark royal births although this little baby is so famous that an exception could yet be made.  He can take some consolation from the fact that if things going according to plan, his face will be on Britain's stamps for many years once he's king.

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