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French postal service pays tribute to Queen with collector stamps

It is highly unusual for the French post office to issue special limited edition stamps in memory of a non-French citizen

La Poste has paid tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II Pic: SRichardImages / Shutterstock

[Article updated September 20 at 14:30 with further information on the stamps.]

French postal service La Poste has paid homage to the life of Queen Elizabeth II by creating a book of four collector stamps representing four important moments in her life. 

Some 50,000 of the stamps were put on sale on the La Poste website yesterday (September 19) – to mark the monarch’s funeral – at €8.50 per book of four. 

The stamps are valid for priority letter postage (lettres prioritaires) across the world, and do not have an expiry date.

The first shows Elizabeth II during her Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977, the second has her riding a horse during the 1972 Trooping the Colour, the third shows her in London in 1986, and the fourth again in London in 2002, her Golden Jubilee year. 

“A sovereign of wisdom and strength, she will have profoundly marked her nation, her people and history itself, forging throughout her 70 years of reign friendly relations with France,” La Poste said. 

The photographs on the stamps were chosen deliberately to reflect the red, white and blue of the Union Jack, the postal service said. 

The stamp book contains a comment from French television presenter and royalty expert, Stéphane Bern, who said: "She was a living legend. During her 70-year reign, Elizabeth II has managed to embody, against all odds, the stability of the United Kingdom and the unity of the Commonwealth. 

"Driven by a strong sense of duty, devoted to the royal institution and its people, she personified the British national identity with dignity and grace, lacking neither courage in the darkest hours of history nor beaming smiles for joyous festivities at which the whole nation gathered around her in a spirit of community. 

"After Elizabeth I and Victoria, Elizabeth II will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest sovereigns in British history."

A La Poste spokesperson told The Connexion that although it could not say how many stamps had been sold so far, it had had "a very good response from stamp collectors".

She added that, in her experience, the postal service had only ever created special limited edition stamps to commemorate famous French figures and she did not recall an occasion where such stamps were ever issued so soon after the person had died.

For example, stamps were created to pay tribute to French politician and former president of the European Parliament Simone Veil, who died in 2017, and performer and Resistance fighter Josephine Baker, who died in 1975, but only to mark their entering the Pantheon, in 2018 and 2021 respectively.

Read also: New square in Monaco marks Joséphine Baker’s links with Princess Grace

Read also: Empire State Building lights up for US-French icon Joséphine Baker

Tribute espadrilles fly off the shelves 

A Perpignan-based company specialising in espadrilles has released a limited edition design marking the death of the Queen, which has provoked significant interest around the world. 

The company, Payote, produced 500 pairs of the shoes, which have an image of the Queen’s face on the front, and the words of ‘God save the Queen’ around the back. 

The espadrilles sold across France, Belgium, Hungary, Canada and beyond, with 200 ordered within 12 hours. 

However, Payote’s founder Olivier Gely said that he had initially meant the shoes simply as a tribute on social media, and had not intended to sell them. 

“We were in the workshop and we said that it would be cool to create an espadrille with the Queen’s face,” he said. “We did it and posted a photo on social media around 20:00, and at 22:00 we had received more than 1,000 messages asking us if we were going to sell them.”

Money received from the shoe sales will go to the Apprentis d’Auteuil foundation, which works to give vulnerable children a good start in life. 

While attending the Queen's funeral yesterday (September 19), President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte also gifted the new King Charles with a book of pictures from the late monarch's visits to France as a tribute to her life. 

Related articles 

Seven facts about the Queen’s relationship with France

Paris métro station George V pays homage to Queen Elizabeth II

France’s ‘most British airport’ to be renamed after Queen Elizabeth I

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