Ascension Island honors Britain's monarchs
On 21 December 2007 Elizabeth II became Britain's oldest reigning monarch surpassing Queen Victoria who died aged 81 years, seven months, four weeks and one day on 22 January 1901 and George III five days earlier.
Queen Elizabeth II
However, Queen Elizabeth II still has several years to go before becoming the longest reigning monarch. The Queen, the fifth longest-reigning monarch in 1,000 years of British history, will on March 5 next year overtake Henry III, who reigned for 56 years from 12161272. It will be 2011 before she passes the record of King James VI of Scotland and I of England and then 2012 before she overtakes George III, who served for 59 years from 17601820. With Queen Victoria remaining as the longest serving monarch who ruled the Empire for almost 64 years, providing Queen Elizabeth is still on the throne on 9 September 2015, she will take Queen Victoria's place.
This series of new postage stamps from Ascension Island depicts each of these five Monarchs in fine detail against one of their main residences. Produced in postage stamp sheets of eight stamps, each sheet has a decorative border illustrating a significant image from the Monarch's reign.
35p - King Henry III
King Henry III the son of King John (who had been forced to sign Magna Carta and who died under questionable circumstances, possibly of poisoning) became King at the age of nine and ruled from 1216 to 1272. The first child king of England since Ethelred the Unready, Henry was unusually crowned twice. The first Coronation, a hasty affair arranged by the man who became Regent, William Marshall was held at Gloucester Cathedral in 1216 and the second Coronation, ordered by Pope Honorius III was held at Westminster Abbey four years later.
Although long, Henry's reign was not greatly successful, but saw the acknowledged creation of the first formal Parliament which was forced on him by William de Montfort and the most powerful of the English Barons. This loss of control of what was considered the divine right of kings to rule caused a major rift between Henry and the Barons which resulted in insurrection and the eventual capture of Henry and his son Edward at the Battle of Lewes.
In time, de Montfort was defeated and Henry who was greatly impressed all through his life by the legend of one of his predecessors Edward the Confessor, devoted more time to following his teachings and eventually expanded Westminster Abbey and moved the bones of the king saint into the Abbey. Intriguingly, when King Henry III died, his body was laid, temporarily, in the tomb of Edward the Confessor while his own sarcophagus was constructed also in Westminster Abbey.
The stamp shows King Henry III against the Tower of London whilst the stamp sheet border shows Henry's tomb adjacent to the Shrine of Edward the Confessor.
40p - King James
King James reigned first in Scotland as James VI and then England as James I from 1567 to 1625 and is perhaps best remembered for the Gunpowder Plot which was initiated by Robert Catesby, (a devout Catholic who objected to the way in which King James I had turned his back on the Catholic Faith in order to satisfy the Puritans.) Catesby recruited a small band of conspirators, the initial group included Thomas Wintour, Jack Wright, Thomas Percy and Guy Fawkes.
Their plan was for Guy Fawkes to light the fuse to blow up Parliament House on November the 5th 1605 when it re-opened. To coincide with the explosion there was to be an uprising in the Midlands and the kidnap of King James's daughter, Princess Elizabeth so that they could install her as a 'puppet' Queen.
The plot was discovered by Lord Monteagle who informed the relevant authorities which led to the arrest of Guy Fawkes who was sent to the Tower of London where he was put on trial with the other conspirators and their fate was that they were hung, drawn and quartered.
The stamp depicts King James against Stirling Castle where he spent much of his childhood and was crowned (aged 1) at the adjacent Church of the Holy Rude. The stamp sheet border shows the Gunpowder Plot conspirators.
50p - King George III
King George III, the first of the Hanoverian kings to be born in England and to use the English language reigned from 1760-1820. Although best remembered as the Monarch who lost the American Colonies and descended into madness, George was a very devout, well educated family man with strong principles and it was under his rule that Britain became involved in the fight against Napoleon.
It was King George III who agreed to surrender certain Crown revenues in return for an annual payment from Parliament, now known as the Civil List and he was a great supporter of both the arts and scientific discovery.
King George III purchased Queen's House (later extended and re-named Buckingham Palace) for his wife and their 15 children. Initially at odds with Parliament, George found a long period of peace with that body under his Prime Ministers Lord North and then Pitt the Younger.
Although there are mixed opinions as to why George III lost his sanity, there is no doubt that although still titular King, he was replaced for the last 10 years of his life by his oldest son the Prince Regent who following his death became George IV.
The stamp depicts King George III against Windsor Castle whilst the stamp sheet border depicts a detail from a painting by George Chambers entitled "The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805: Death of Nelson".
65p - Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria the orphaned daughter of the fourth son of King George III acceded to the throne after the death of King William IV as none of her father's siblings had children. Only 18 when she became Queen, Victoria ruled from 1837 to 1901, becoming the longest reigning monarch in British history.
Victoria is associated with Britain's great industrial and colonial growth, which saw this small Country extend its position as a world power, dominating in both politics and the international economy. In 1840, just three years after becoming Queen, Victoria married her cousin and great love, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha with whom she had nine children, most of whom married into the various Royal Families of Europe.
Although the marriage was initially unpopular with the British elite, Albert proved to be a strong and generally wise influence on Victoria and his early death due to typhoid in 1861 came as a great shock to her and she remained in mourning for the rest of her life.
So badly was Queen Victoria affected by her loss that she stayed out of the public eye for nearly ten years, causing an upswing in republican sentiment, but eventually she returned to a public life and her popularity was regained, even though in the period from 1840 to 1882, there were no less than seven attempts on her life.
The stamp shows Queen Victoria against Osborne House, her preferred residence in the Isle of Wight whilst the stamp sheet border shows an engraving of a steam engine, illustrating how steam power revolutionized industrial progress in Victorian Britain.
125p - Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II has reigned since 1952 and has so far seen 11 Prime Ministers, starting with Sir Winston Churchill throughout her reign, she has become the first monarch to celebrate her Diamond Wedding Anniversary and Elizabeth II is also the first monarch to have a Prime Minister born during her reign. Queen Elizabeth II shows little sign of slowing down and continues to carry out about 450 engagements each year and spends up to four nights a week at Buckingham Palace, and three at Windsor Castle, her favorite home.
The stamp depicts Queen Elizabeth II against Buckingham Palace whilst the stamp sheet border depicts the earth and computer circuitry as a graphical representation of the digital world that we now live in.
Postage stamps in detail
Issue: Ascension Island, 15 December 2008
Designer: Andrew Robinson
Printer: BDT International
Process: Stochastic lithography
Stamp Size: 28.45 x 42.58mm
Sheet Format: 8 with pictorial selvedge
Perforation: 14 per 2cms
More information Postage Stamps
Postage Stamps 2008
Christmas on Ascension Island
Botanists and Plants
90th Anniversary of the RAF