His Majesty King Charles III joins a long line of reigning sovereigns on Canadian stamps

May 6, 2023
4 minute read

Canada Post has issued the first Canadian postage – a definitive stamp – depicting His Majesty King Charles III, King of Canada, following his coronation. Designed by Paprika, the new stamp features a portrait of The King (then The Prince of Wales) by photographer Alan Shawcross.

A royal procession of Canadian definitives

Reigning sovereigns began to appear on our stamps even before Confederation. The first was Queen Victoria, on a 12-pence stamp issued by the Province of Canada on June 14, 1851, nearly 172 years ago. It followed the April release of the first-ever Canadian stamp – the 3-pence Beaver. Also known as the “12-penny Black,” the Queen Victoria stamp made mainstream news in January 2023, when a mint stamp, possessing full original gum and never hinged, sold at auction for $250,000.

The first Queen Victoria stamp issued by the Province of Canada, in 1851.

A definitive stamp is a postage stamp that is part of a regular issue of stamps, designed to serve the everyday needs and issued in indefinite quantities.


A commemorative stamp celebrates a special place, event, person, theme or theme, often issued on a significant date. Unlike a definitive stamp which is reprinted for general usage, a commemorative stamp is printed in a limited quantities and is available until stamps run out.

A long-standing tradition

During the early years of the Canadian postal system and into the early 20th century, commemorative stamps were fairly rare. Queen Victoria continued to appear on Canadian stamps, mainly definitives, until 1902.

Stamps issued during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) – 1868, 1893.

King Edward VII, Queen Victoria’s son, didn’t appear on a Canadian definitive until July 1903, two and a half years after he ascended the throne.

The first stamps of King Edward VII (reigned 1901-10) were issued in July 1903.

Definitive stamps bearing the images of King George V and King George VI, during their respective reigns, followed.

Stamps issued during the reign of George V (1910-36) – 1923, 1930.

Stamps issued during the reign of King George VI (1936-52) – 1937, 1942, 1949.

Eight decades of stamps featuring Queen Elizabeth II

The first definitives to feature Queen Elizabeth II – in a set of five different denominations – were issued on May 1, 1953, a month before her June 2 coronation. By that time, she had already appeared, as Princess Elizabeth, on four Canadian stamps, beginning in 1935, when she was just nine years old, on the occasion of the silver jubilee of her grandfather, George V.

The first set of Queen Elizabeth II definitives, based on a photo by Yousuf Karsh and issued on May 1, 1953.

During her more than 70-year reign, The Queen appeared on more than 70 stamps. Of these, more than two-thirds were definitives.

A selection of Queen Elizabeth II definitives over the years — 1954, 1973, 1977, 2007, 2016.

First stamp to bear King Charles III’s likeness

The passing of Queen Elizabeth II initiated the need for new definitives in Canada and the United Kingdom. While several other members of the Royal Family have appeared on Canadian commemorative stamps – including The Queen Mother, The Prince and Princess of Wales (then The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) and their eldest son, Prince George  – the new definitive stamp marks the first time His Majesty King Charles III, King of Canada, has had his likeness on a stamp.

The His Majesty King Charles III definitive, issued May 8, 2023. The 2006 photograph also appeared on a stamp issued by Jersey Post to mark the 70th birthday of The King (then The Prince of Wales) in 2018.

The heir apparent since 1952, The King was created Prince of Wales by The Queen when he was nine years old. He is the president or patron of more than 400 organizations, including many in Canada. Since his first official tour of Canada in 1970, His Majesty has returned numerous times. He and The Duchess of Cornwall (now The Queen Consort) made their most recent tour in 2022 as part of The Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations.

This stamp signals the beginning of a new reign and the continuation of a long tradition of depicting Canadian sovereigns on definitive stamps. For both collectors and Canadians, it represents a moment in time and a new era in Canadian postage.

New definitive depicts His Majesty King Charles III

Available now