Royal Mail Christmas stamps are last festive issue with Queen's silhouette and first with barcodes
The last ever Christmas stamps to feature Queen Elizabeth's silhouette have been revealed.
Royal Mail has unveiled its 2022 festive collection, which will feature scenes of the Nativity.
The six designs, available to buy online and from Post Offices today (Thursday, November 3), will be used on Christmas cards and parcels across the festive season.
They are also be some of the last stamp designs to feature the late Queen's silhouette before it is replaced with that of King Charles.
The stamps depict key moments in the traditional Christmas story including the journey to Bethlehem by Mary and Joseph and how the Three Kings were guided to baby Jesus by a bright star.
The artist behind the work, award-winning creator Katie Ponder, has used art deco references in her designs and described the entire experience of creating the stamps as 'surreal'.
Katie added: "It’s a huge honour to illustrate the Nativity story which is sacred to so many people and is a story full of hope and joy. Knowing that the artwork I created will be a part of people's Christmas celebrations and Christmas post this year is very magical to me. I hope that everyone enjoys the pictures I’ve made for them.
"It’s important to me to acknowledge that there were a team of people behind these stamps that made them what they are. The artwork itself was very much a collaboration between myself and art director Rory Brady at Baxter and Bailey. He was an amazing director to work with as he gave me complete freedom to interpret the Nativity story in my own style and from there he could see what worked about my illustrations, and how to amplify the designs and make them what they are today.
"I also had a huge amount of support from my incredible agents at The Artworks Inc and my friends, family - and cat - also played an important role in the process of creating this work."
As well as teaming up with Katie and her team, Royal Mail also worked with The Rev Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James's Church, Piccadilly, on the stamp issue.
David Gold, Director of External Affairs and Policy at Royal Mail, said: "Our Christmas stamp issue is always much anticipated, and it is one we particularly look forward to. The charming style of these designs sets the perfect tone for the festive season."
Barcodes also appear on this year's Christmas stamps for the first time, which allow customers to watch seasonal themed videos created exclusively for Royal Mail by Aardman, the creators of Wallace and Gromit.
The video features Shaun the Sheep and his friends sending festive cheer to the farmer’s dog.
To view the video both the sender and mail recipient should download the Royal Mail app.
The new barcode feature, first unveiled in February this year also enables the introduction of additional security features says Royal Mail, which is now starting to phase out the old-style stamps.
Households with non-barcoded stamps have until the end of January 2023 to use them after which time they will no longer be valid on letters, cards and parcels.
Stamps featuring King Charles will be introduced, says the postal service, after consultation with the Royal household.
David Gold added: "Many of us have stamps kept in drawers and wallets, or in a tray on a desk or tucked away on the mantlepiece. With Christmas approaching, now is the perfect time to use them up. If that is not possible, customers are invited to swap them for barcoded stamps of the same value, completely free of charge."
With a number of strikes by communications union CWU planned for late November and early December as its members continue a dispute over pay, Royal Mail is encouraging customers to order online gifts well in advance and post festive greetings early.