A ‘miniature sheet’ displaying the four wood-engraved Royal Mail stamp designs due May 6 to commemorate King Charles III’s Coronation. The illustrations emphasize the new monarch’s interests more than present his image as a ruler, one expert said. Notable is …

Mosque, Sikh temple feature on stamp noting King Charles III, new head of Church of England

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King Charles III, who will be anointed as head of the Church of England on May 6, is being commemorated with a Royal Mail postage stamp depicting a wood engraving of a mosque, a Buddhist temple and a Sikh gurdwara among other houses of worship.

Captioned “Diversity and Community,” the stamp depicts a Jew, a Muslim, a Sikh, a Buddhist, a Hindu and a Christian, and “is representative of all faiths and none,” a news release states. Urban and rural Britain are shown in the background, along with the different houses of worship.

A silhouette of King Charles appears on four stamp designs, but the new monarch is shown only in profile on one — his crowning by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Another stamp depicts images representing the Commonwealth of Nations, of which Charles became the head when his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, died.

A fourth shows scenes of “Sustainability and Biodiversity,” reflecting his environmental interests. In 2020, the then-Prince of Wales began offering jars of honey grown on his Highgrove estate at £25 apiece, with the proceeds going to charity.

The new designs, released at 12:01 a.m. Friday London time, mark a radical departure from previous Royal Mail stamps marking a coronation. Those have depicted either the sovereign alone (Elizabeth II in 1953) or with their spouse (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1937).

The new stamps — from wood engravings by artist Andrew Davidson — shift the focus from Charles as ruler to the communities, nations and peoples the royal family serves.

“Oh, my God,” professor Alice Hunt said on seeing the designs. She is an associate professor at the University of Southampton and a researcher on the monarchy who has traced its rituals and ceremonies.

She said the theme of the new issues clearly reflects Charles’ ideas for his reign, some of which he has championed for years.

“This is him using the stamp to project not the image of kingship or him being recognizable as a person with the Crown — apart from the Coronation one,” Ms. Hunt said. “This is him using the stamps to promote his values … that I don’t think he’s been able to get into the coronation ceremony as much as he might have wanted.”

Royal Mail spokesperson deflected a question about the level of the king’s input into the stamp design process.

“We do not comment on conversations between Royal Mail and the Royal Household,” Natasha Ayivor, senior external communications and campaigns manager, said via email. “All stamps are approved by the Monarch before they are released.”

Postal mail volumes have declined in the United Kingdom, from 14.34 billion pieces of “addressed letters” in 2011 to 7.79 billion pieces in 2021, according to a February 23 study by data research firm Statistia.com.

But postage stamps retain an interest for many in the U.K. and worldwide. British stamp dealers Stanley Gibbons estimate a global total of 60 million stamp collectors, the Royal Mail announcement said.

The four single stamps and a miniature sheet with the designs printed together will go on sale on Coronation Day, the postal agency said.

Pre-orders for the stamps are being accepted online at www.royalmail.com/coronation.

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