Here is a review of the Commonwealth events and anniversaries in 2021 which usually had philatelic consequences and which are worth noting as the world continued to try to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic -
2 February 🇬🇧 Death of centenarian charity fund raiser, Major Sir Tom Moore, who became a British icon during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Royal Mail refused to issue a stamp to commemorate this British hero but later in the year announced that a design competition for schoolchildren was to be held on the subject of Heroes of the Pandemic. It is possible that one of the designs will feature ‘Captain Tom’. The set will be released on 23 March 2022.
17 March 🇧🇩 Birth Centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Father figure of Bangladesh. Throughout the year numerous commemoratives were released to commemorate this important anniversary.
9 April 🇬🇧 Death of The Duke Of Edinburgh (consort of Queen Elizabeth II) at the age of 99, a couple of months before his 100th birthday. Stamps from various Commonwealth philatelic entities planned to commemorate his birthday were substituted by more sombre stamps which looked back on his life.
21 April 🇬🇧 95th Birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. Many stamp issues from around The Commonwealth were released.
27 April 🇸🇱 60th anniversary of Sierra Leone’s independence. So far no related commemoratives are known to have been issued by its postal service. There was good news in that the vast number of products produced in the country’s name by the notorious agency Stamperija appeared to have ceased.
17 May 🇬🇮 Royal Gibraltar Post Office felt it necessary to issue a Cryptocurrency stamp in a limited edition miniature sheet linked to a “block chain-based digital collectable” or “non-fungible token” counterpart (please don’t ask me to explain).
26 May 🇲🇿 The government of Mozambique abolished the national postal service, Correios de Moçambique, on the grounds that it was uneconomic to run. The day before the announcement, Stamperija sneaked out a lot of expensive stamp issues including a number dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
23 June 🇰🇼 The 60th anniversary of the independence of Kuwait after Great Britain gave up its protectorate over the country. The country’s Post Office issued 2 stamps to commemorate the anniversary.
26 - 27 June - 🇷🇼 The meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) due to take place on these dates in Kigali in Rwanda was postponed for a second time because of the ongoing pandemic.
24 July - 19 August. 🇦🇺🇧🇲 Delayed 2020 Olympic Games held in Tokyo.Australia Post, as usual, issued stamps to commemorate all of its gold medal winners while a Bermuda triathlete, Flora Duffy, won the territory’s first ever gold medal and was subsequently commemorated by a stamp issue.
15 August - 🇧🇭 50th anniversary of the Independence of Bahrain after Great Britain gave up its protectorate over the country. There is no news of any stamp issue having been released by the country’s postal service to commemorate the event.
21 August, 🇦🇫 Probably the most important event of the year, the fall of Kabul as Taliban forces invaded the city following the sudden abandonment of Afghanistan by US forces under orders from the disastrous US President Biden. The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was forced to flee the country as Taliban forces closed in on the presidential palace precipitating widespread panic among the people with many wishing to follow Ghani’s example and escape from the country and the threat of rule by terrorists. British troops assisted in the mass evacuation of the terrified inhabitants from Kabul airport. Afghan Post’s final stamp of the Islamic Republic period had been issued earlier in the year to commemorate Tetsu Nakamura’s humanitarian work in the country.
22 August 🇮🇶 Centenary of the Accession of King Faisal I to the throne of Iraq by which the country became a Kingdom under a League of Nations Mandate belonging to Great Britain. The postal service of Iraq issued a stamp and a miniature sheet to commemorate the centenary.
27 August 🇮🇴 The Congress of the Universal Postal Union held in Abidjan in Côte D’Ivoire decided that the stamps of the British Indian Ocean Territory should no longer be registered, distributed and transmitted by the UPU and that only the stamps of the Republic of Mauritius should be used on mail from Diego Garcia and The Chagos Islands though that pronouncement failed to recognise that there was no functioning Mauritian post office in the islands.
3 September - 🇶🇦 Fiftieth anniversary of the achievement of Independence of Qatar after Great Britain gave up its protectorate over the country. The country’s postal service has so far not issued any stamps to commemorate the anniversary.
9 November 🇸🇭🇬🇧🇬🇸🇸🇭 The postal services of four UK Overseas territories, Ascension Island, British Antarctic Territory, South Georgia And The South Sandwich Islands and Tristan Da Cunha, participated in an omnibus issue commemorating the Blue Belt Programme whereby the British government helps the territories to develop programmes to protect their territorial waters. Each territory issued 4 stamps and 1 miniature sheet.
11 November - 🇿🇦 Death of former President of South Africa, FW De Klerk, last Head of State of South Africa who was a leader of the apartheid regime but who played an important role in negotiating with Nelson Mandela the end of white rule in the country and the establishment of democracy there.
20 November - 🇵🇳 After a long break, the first stamps to be issued by the postal service of Pitcairn Islands under the direction of its new philatelic agents, Tower Mint, were released commemorating the 95th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.
30 November - 🇧🇧 Barbados became a Republic within The Commonwealth on the 45th anniversary of its independence from The United Kingdom. Dame Sandra Mason, the former Governor General, became the first President of the Republic. The Ceremony marking the enD of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II in Barbados was attended by The Prince Of Wales. Surprisingly no commemorative stamps were issued by the Barbados postal service to celebrate this landmark event in the nation’s history.
2 December - 🇦🇪 50th anniversary of the achievement of Independence of The Trucial States after Great Britain gave up its protectorate over them. Six of the seven territories united to form The United Arab Emirates and the country’s postal service issued 1 stamp and 8 miniature sheets to commemorate the anniversary.
9 December - 🇹🇿 60th anniversary of the Independence of Tanganyika. No news yet of any stamps having been released to commemorate the anniversary but it is possible than such an issue has been released by the postal service of Tanzania.
26 December - 🇿🇦 The death was announced of the former Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, who was an important campaigner against apartheid in South Africa and who headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the introduction of majority rule in the country which helped to ensure a peaceful transition period in South Africa. After conflict in the Solomon Islands he was called upon to carry on a similar role in that small Pacific nation. Expect to see many stamps in his honour during 2022.
Happy new year!