Tuesday, 27 Feb 2024

King Charles will have to wait for his post service

King Charles will have to wait to see his initials emblazoned over the nation’s post boxes, after the Royal Mail revealed it is still installing boxes with Queen Elizabeth II’s insignia.

The Royal Mail says it is continuing to install post boxes that were in production or already manufactured when the Queen died last year. 

A spokesperson said: “In line with past practice, following the death of a monarch all existing post boxes will remain unchanged. Post boxes already in production or being prepared for installation, will also retain the insignia of Queen Elizabeth II.

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The letters “EiiR” are a familiar sight across the nation as they are visible on almost every post box installed during the late queen’s reign. The letter R stands for regina, Latin for queen, while Eii refers to Elizabeth II.

But the insignia on existing post boxes remains unchanged when a new monarch comes to the throne, which means that tens of thousands will continue to carry her initials – known officially as a cypher.

Roughly a third of post boxes actually date back to before Elizabeth’s reign began in 1952, and carry the symbol of previous monarchs. One in 20 have the initials VR, referring to Queen Victoria who reigned from 1837 to 1901.

The spokesperson added: “Post boxes carrying the EiiR cypher (EiR in Scotland) that are currently operational will remain in use. We will make an announcement at the appropriate time about the installation of postboxes bearing the cypher of King Charles.”

In his case the cypher is expected to read CiiiR, with the R this time standing for rex, Latin for king, though no formal announcement has been made.

According to the Letter Box Study Group, around one in 12 post boxes carry the insignia of the King’s grandfather, George VI. A larger number, 15 percent, have the insignia of George V.

Around one in 25 have the insignia of Edward VII. And about 150 surviving post boxes carry the insignia of Edward VIII, who reigned for less than a year in 1936 before abdicating. He was later known as the Duke of Windsor.

There are 115,000 post boxes across the UK. The most common are standalone boxes known as pillar boxes, mostly circular although some of the earliest models were hexagonal. Others include wall boxes, which tend to be smaller and are installed inside walls.

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