Commemoratives new arrivals after royal birth

While Canada Post is keeping mum on their plans to issue stamps commemorating the birth of Prince George Alexander Louis, other postal authorities were quick to get their issues out to the public.

The Isle of Man was first off the mark, with a sheet of eight stamps offering congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The sheet includes four pairs stamps of each parent. Between each pair is a label announcing the birth of Prince George, with the date, time and weight. At the bottom is a quote from the birth announcement, by Prince William: “We could not be happier.” The stamps are all £1 value.

There will also be a commemorative cover, with a gold-foil cancel with the words “It’s A Boy.” “We were thrilled to hear the news of the birth of the royal baby, HRH Prince George of Cambridge and delighted to mark the historic occasion with a special commemorative souvenir sheetlet of postage stamps,” said Maxine Cannon, general manager of Isle of Man Stamps and Coins. Not far behind was Guernsey Post, which also announced plans to issue a set of stamps to celebrate the birth of the royal baby. The actual design, however, was not disclosed. The authority said once it had selected an image for the stamp, it would then seek royal approval, and start production.

Dawn Gallienne, head of philatelic issues, said the commemorative set would consist of a miniature sheet, first-day cover and presentation pack. The three babies in Guernsey and one in Alderney who were born on the same day as the latest member of the Royal Family would receive the stamp set, including a framed first-day cover. Australia was quicker, issuing an instant stamp sheetlet showing the Royal Couple leaving St. Mary’s hospital. Sold in sheetlets of 10, the 60-cent stamps went on sale on July 29. The self-adhesive stamps were designed by Sonia Young of the Australia Post Design Studio, and have a St. Mary’s, NSW, cancel. The stamp will also be used for a commemorative cover, stamp pack, maxicard and booklet.

In early August, Gibraltar announced that it was issuing a £2 stamp showing the new family leaving the hospital. Designed by Stephen Perera using a photograph by Getty Images, the stamps were printed by BDT International using four-colour offset lithography. The stamps were offered in a sheetlet and on first-day covers, with several packaging variations. The arrival of the new prince, third in line to the British throne, was the subject of a media frenzy. In the weeks before Prince George’s birth, media around the world camped outside the London hospital in an international baby watch that only increased as the due date arrived, and then passed.

When born, the new prince became third in line to the Canadian throne, after his father and grandfather, Prince Charles. For the first time in history the gender of the newborn royal was irrelevant, as the newly altered Act of Succession means that now the first born, whether boy or girl, will be monarch. And in another first, the birth of this royal baby saw Prince William take paternity leave from his position as a helicopter rescue pilot.

As an independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Canada recognizes the monarch as Queen of Canada in this country, not as Queen of the United Kingdom. As such her Canadian officials take precedence over her British staff. The Canadian government’s Department of Heritage lists all immediate members of the royal family as the Canadian Royal Family. Shortly after the birth, the Royal Canadian Mint announced that Canada would issue commemorative coins.

The coins were unveiled by Governor General David Johnston on Aug. 8. When the Duke and Duchess married in 2011, Canada Post originally had plans for a commemorative issue. However at the time the wedding plans were changed and three stamps were issued. The stamps consisted of a permanent domestic-rate stamp showing the couple riding in a carriage on their wedding day, and domestic-and international-rate stamps showing the couple in photos taken before the wedding.

As with all royal events, there is no shortage of less-official offerings, some with a philatelic twist. Great Britain’s Westminster Collection, a private seller of coin and stamp collectibles, brought out a collector card, which had been planned well in advance of the birth. Most are built around the royal engagement stamps, royal wedding stamps, or the United Kingdom’s first-class teddy bear stamps, with accompanying labels to offer congratulations. Several thousand were prepositioned at a Royal Mail post office, so they could be cancelled the day of the royal birth.

Another British firm, Benham, has created a series of commemorative covers. The offering includes not just royal engagement commemoratives. One cover has a selection of stamps honouring the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and grandmother to Prince George. Another cover celebrates the birth of the royal baby by tracing his ancestry back to King George VI using historic Royal Mail commemorative stamps: the 1948 Silver Wedding; the 1972 Silver Wedding and the 1981 royal wedding, with a cachet – showing his great-grandmother, grandfather and father. The 2011 engagement commemorative is cancelled by a Windsor cancel on the date of birth. The United States firm Zazzle, a large producer of personalized postage for that country, has a selection of royal and baby-themed stamps, including one showing a teddy bear with Union Jack flags in the background.

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