It shouldn’t take much for the average person to realize that Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain is also rather important to the people of Canada. Her face is on the twenty dollar bill. Her portrait hangs in many public buildings. Schools, hospitals and even roads are named after her. And Canada has not been without a stamp portraying Her Majesty for sixty years. She is indeed Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of Canada. (Some have said she’s only Elizabeth the First of Canada, since Elizabeth I of England was Queen before the Commonwealth.)
Anyone under the age of sixty has known no other British king or queen. On February 6, 1952, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, at just 25, was in a remote area of Kenya, Africa with her husband Prince Phillip, when she got word that her father, King George VI had died. Suddenly she became Queen (of the Empire), the Head of State of the United Kingdom and all other Commonwealth realms, including Canada.
We are about to witness history. Imagine the celebrations, the wonder and Queen Victoria riding in her coach through the streets of London when she celebrated sixty years as the reigning monarch of Great Britain and the British Empire. And in 2012 the same celebrations will take place honouring our gracious Queen on her Diamond Jubilee.
Stamp collectors are still agog at the series of sixteen stamps Canada issued in 1897 to commemorate Victoria’s reign.
They run from ½ -cent to $5. Given inflation, you can imagine the $16.20 ½ -cents was a hefty sum in those days when bread was maybe a penny a loaf. Today collectors save up to afford the set in “average” condition at about $2000.
You may have also noticed that the “new conservative government” is monarchist. Our Prime Minister is big on the Queen. For instance, he has restored the “Royal” title to our armed forces. It is now the “Royal Navy,” and the “Royal Air Force.” There has even been a memo that portraits should be up in more government facilities. And not that government influences the Post in any way, Canada Post Corporation (CPC) is celebrating Her Majesty’s milestone big time.
Most years we see a small definitive (regular) postage stamp with the Queen’s portrait. This year, on January 16, CPC is issuing a large size commemorative showing her majesty in white royal robes and tiara, riding in her coach.
Appropriately, CPC wanted a stamp that conveyed the solemnity and significance of this milestone.
Then, every month, on the sixth day of each month till June, a small pane of stamps will be issued. The one stamp, repeated four times, will reproduce an earlier stamp showing the Queen in each of the six decades she has reigned.
It is not yet clear if these will be generally available to the public, so they may have to be ordered. (If you’re interested, you may check at www.canadapost.ca/shop or call the philatelic sales outlet at 1-800-565-4362. You may also check with the Golden Stamp Club at the number listed at the end of this article.) A keepsake pack is being issued including a pane of 4 stamps, a postcard and a booklet telling the history of Queen Elizabeth’s reign for that specific decade.
Personally, after seeing the stamp marketing done for the wedding of William and Kate, I would be surprised if these (overpriced) “keepsakes” were not available locally. CPC, like many other postal administrations, is printing more and more “extras.” Oddly enough, they are printing more different stamps at a time when fewer and fewer people are actually writing letters. Go figure.
In June, CPC will issue an especially engraved stamp patterned after the Diamond Jubilee set issued for Queen Victoria. We don’t know yet, but I suspect it will be a $2 stamp, or similar high value.
Victoria reigned for 63 years and a little over seven months. So, watch for another stamp (or set?) sometime in 2015, when Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Mary could become the longest reigning monarch in the history of Great Britain and the British Commonwealth.
Some of the members of the Golden Stamp Club are members of the “Royal” Canadian Philatelic Society. We will meet at Trinity Lutheran Church, 909 Ninth St., at 3:00pm, Sunday, January 29. Anyone is welcome to swap, trade, sell, buy, or just generally brag on their stamps or grab a coffee and chat about things philatelic. Questions? Contact Ron at firstname.lastname@example.org , 250-344-5939.