Tuesday 23 July 2013

277. Royal Baby Ensures Philatelic Deluge.

  At 4.24PM on 22 July 2013, a baby son was born to the Duke and Duchess Of Cambridge and this small prince automatically became third in line not only to the throne of The United Kingdom but also Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas, Papua New Guinea, Grenada, Antigua And Barbuda, St. Kitts And Nevis, St. Vincent And The Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Belize, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. Doubtless, in the next few weeks we will see numerous commemorative stamps being issued by most, if not all, of these countries (probably not Jamaica, I suspect) as well as other Commonwealth countries where the British monarch is not head of state and a large number of the various dependencies of Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Just as the new baby's birth has been followed by English summer storms and deluges of rain, so no doubt, the birth will also be followed by a deluge of stamp issues, with various postal administrations hopeful of cashing in on the birth of this child of two very popular royal figures.
  The birth of the child's father, The Duke Of Cambridge, set a precedent with stamp issues from numerous territories of The Commonwealth being issued to commemorate his birth. Among the first to appear, pictured above, was a single stamp released by Mauritius on 22 September 1982 which depicted The Prince and Princess of Wales standing at the entrance of the hospital where the birth had taken place, the Princess hold the baby Prince William in her arms as they left the hospital to return home. The simplicity of the issue has a lot to recommend it and it represents the earliest photograph taken of the baby, a future king. The Isle Of Man issued another attractive item, even if it may be considered rather twee, on 12 October 1982 which depicted a formal portrait of Diana, Princess Of Wales with the baby Prince William which took the form of a miniature sheet as shown below:-

  It is not surprising that the Cook Islands even then got into the act with a set of 4 stamps issued on 30 November 1982 which depicted details of paintings by Peter Paul Rubens showing cherubs with an inset formal portrait of the Princess with her baby. Previously on 12 July 1982, 4 stamps and a miniature sheet which had originally been issued to commemorate the Princess's 21st birthday were released with an overprint "Royal Birth . 21 June 1982" and on 30 November 1982 a Christmas miniature sheet was also issued which again featured the formal portrait of Princess and baby. Not content with all that, issues were also made for Aitutaki and Penrhyn and just to prove that what goes around comes around, 31 years later, The Cook Islands and all its subsidiary philatelic entities are planning an issue, no doubt lavish and expensive, to commemorate the birth of Prince William's son.

A large number of Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries also issued "royal baby" stamps. A large New York-based philatelic agency had released a number of sets of 3 stamps and a miniature sheet during 1982 to commemorate the 21st birthday of Diana Princess Of Wales and these issues were overprinted with the inscription "ROYAL BABY 21.6.82" which made a cheap way of producing stamps to commemorate the birth as well as a good way of reducing unsold stocks of the original stamps. These countries were Antigua And Barbuda, (Barbuda also issued 3 stamps and a miniature sheet of its own as well as 3 more stamps and a miniature sheet in which "BARBUDA MAIL" was overprinted on the Antigua Royal baby overprinted set), Grenada, Grenadines Of Grenada, Dominica, Guyana, Maldive Islands, Sierra Leone, Turks And Caicos Islands and Bhutan. Three of these territories issued the same stamps in sheetlets with different perforations (Grenada, Grenadines Of Grenada and Guyana) thus increasing the number of items for collectors to buy. The miniature sheets supposedly depicted distant relatives of The Princess Of Wales in their margins and that is why personalities such as Franklin D Roosevelt and Humphrey Bogart found their way into this issue:-

  The territories under the control of Philatelists Ltd, which was to go on and produce the notorious "Leaders of the World" series of stamps, also released overprints on stamps which had originally been produced to commemorate the Princess Of Wales' 21st birthday - these territories were St. Kitts, Nevis, St. Vincent, The Grenadines Of St. Vincent, Kiribati and Tuvalu:-

  It was an interesting set in that 1 value depicted a former Princess Of Wales while a second depicted her coat of arms and the third value showed a portrait if Diana, Princess Of Wales. The overprint said nothing more than "ROYAL BABY". I think that some of the other princesses have never been depicted on any other stamps.

  Finally I should mention that other Commonwealth countries to participate in this particular omnibus were Belize, Jamaica, Lesotho and Niue. We must wait with baited breath to see what appears this time - I expect we will have issues from Royal Mail, all the offshore islands and most of the British Overseas Territories, most of the countries where The House of Windsor provides the Head of State (Australia Post has already commissioned their regular designer, Lynette Traynor, to produce designs for their issue) and quite a few more as well. When this young prince is named it will be one more to add to the line of descent that was featured on the 1982 miniature sheets:-

Post scriptum: In addition to Australia Post's indication that it intends to issue "Royal Baby" stamps, it has also been announced that stamps will be released by New Zealand and also produced by a large New York-based agency in the names of Sierra Leone, St. Vincent And The Grenadines, Antigua And Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, Dominica and The Turks And Caicos Islands. Guernsey Post Office has also announced that it will issue a miniature sheet to commemorate Prince George's birth and expects to release the item in the course of the next "couple of months".

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