A SMAC in the Face #46:  The GOAT is Dead – The End of an ERII

Of course, ERII does not refer to season 2 of that long running soapie, ER, but rather to an even longer running reality show, namely the reign of Elizabeth Regina II with all its plot twists, infidelities, deaths and scandals.  After 70 years on the throne, she bowed out this past week with the quiet dignity with which she lived her life.  The Queen is dead.  Long live the King. 

I don’t wish to make many comments on her reign as small-minded people like Julius Malema have already taken their cheap shots at her.  The only time Julius takes expensive shots is when the EFF High Command toasts their latest trashing of Parliamentary rules with Johnnie Walker Blue.  All I can say is that South Africans have had a schizophrenic relationship with her.  The Afrikaners hated her, my generation of English speakers by and large had a soft spot for her, and the Blacks lived with her as much as one lives with piles.

The UK is the only country where the country’s name has never appeared on its stamps.  They merely bore an image of the current monarch. The number 8 must be bad luck for the monarchy.  In between jousting, King Henry VIII went through 6 wives trying to produce viable male issue.  King Edward VIII abdicated in 1937 after less than a year after insisting that his jousting with the divorcee, Wallis Simpson, be made a more permanent sport.  The result was that his brief reign is only marked by the issue of 4 basic definitive stamps and no issue to trouble the royal genealogists.  

By contrast, Queen Lizzie set world records – she appeared on 736 definitive and commemorative stamp sets.  The commemorative sets ranged through British history, achievements, current events and art and literature.  Apart from the classic writers like Shakespeare and Wordsworth being celebrated, the Queen also lent her profile to two sets in 2010 that celebrate the stories of A.A. Milne.  I am talking about one of the nicest bunch of literary characters ever conceived – Winnie-the-Pooh and Friends in the hundred acre wood.  These comprised 10 stamps made from the original 1926-8 illustrations by E.H Shepard which are as classical and timeless as the lovely, innocent stories which we could have far more of in these dissipated times of fatwas, elementary school massacres and narcissistic presidents and selfies.

Until 1966, the Queen’s head appeared as a photo (or a woodcut version of it) looking to the left in a ¾ view.  Since then, she appeared as a side-on view, either as a marble bust with a crown on the definitive stamps, or purely as a silhouette without a crown (maybe a tiara) on the commemorative stamps.  

Some people would not care a groat for her.  In the philatelic world, she’s the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).

Oh well.  Time to turn over a new leaf in my neglected childhood stamp album.  My last British stamp was from about 1974 so I’m missing more than 600 sets of stamps.  Maybe I’ll keep up this time.

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