Queen Elizabeth II British royal family Queen of Canada Post postage stamp coronation Yousef Karsh

Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on more stamps than surely any other person in the world. On Friday morning, another was unveiled by Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, at Rideau Hall. It marks the 65th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation in 1953. While that’s not normally a big anniversary worthy of a stamp, Jim Phillips, director of stamp services at Canada Post, isn’t concerned. “We feel it’s a huge anniversary for our reigning Queen,” he says, before pausing. “Any year at this stage,” he continues, a clear reference to the fact that the monarch, who turns 92 on Saturday, has been Queen of Canada for 66 years (the coronation came a year after she acceded to the throne after the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952.)

As the press release announcing the stamp acknowledges, “As the longest-reigning monarch in our history, Her Majesty the Queen has been, for generations of Canadians, the only monarch depicted on Canadian stamps in their lifetime.” And for Canada Post, it is inconceivable not to have her on a stamp. Indeed, Canadians can always purchase regular stamp featuring her image. This time, for her coronation anniversary, the postal service has created special commemorative stamp.


Queen Elizabeth II coronation anniversary Canada Post stamp“It is a beautiful stamp,” Phillips says. It features a black-and-white photo of a very young Elizabeth. Indeed, the image dates back to a time when she was still a princess. Taken by famed Canadian photographer Yousef Karsh for her first visit to Canada in 1951, it shows a 25-year-old royal wearing an embroidered satin ballgown along some of her most iconic diamond jewellery (the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara along with her Nizam of Hyderabad necklace and floral earrings given as a 21st birthday present by the diplomatic corps).

The stamp, with its delicate typography and design, is the creation of Paprika, a graphic design firm based in Montreal. Their previous Canada Post Stamps have been exquisite, Phillips explains. Paprika was one of a few firms commissioned to create two designs for this stamp. They were examined by the Stamp Advisory Committee, an independent body established in 1969 to vet stamps. The Paprika submission was a hit. “The beauty and the simplicity resonated with it [the committee], Phillips explains. Then came some tweaking to get the design right, and also to secure the rights from the Karsh estate.

The choice of this image is fitting considering an image from that same Karsh photo shoot was the inspiration for Canada Post’s stamps issued for the 1953 coronation. While several of the shots taken by the Canadian photographer on that day are iconic—especially this image, used frequently, including on the cover of Taschen’s book of regal photographs—the black-and-white ones used for the stamp as well as the booklet cover (left) haven’t been overused, making them feel unexpectedly fresh.  Phillips is looking forward to its release: “We feel that when the Governor General unveils it with us that people will go, “Wow.”

“And it [should] sell quite well,” he says hopefully. Given Queen Elizabeth II has been on more than 65 Canadian stamps over the years, her sales power is all but assured.

Queen Elizabeth II Canada Post stamp coronation