Australia Post is commemorating the 85th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II with the release of a stamp issue that uses two official portraits by Australian artists in the design. The stamps will be available for purchase on the 5 April 2011.
"This royal milestone is being commemorated with two stamps featuring a personal view of Her Majesty through the eyes of two Australian artists. Following a long tradition of producing Queen’s birthday stamps since 1980, we trust this stamp issue will be popular with collectors and the public alike," said Australia Post Managing Director and CEO, Ahmed Fahour.
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The domestic rate stamp (60c) features a formal portrait by Brian Dunlop (1938–2009) from the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria. Dunlop was an Australian still life and figurative painter whose work is characterised by clarity of light and a serene contemplative approach. Dunlop won the Sulman Prize in 1980 and was a finalist in the Archibald Prize in 2004. His portrait of Queen Elizabeth II was painted to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the State of Victoria in 1984.
Well-known artist and entertainer Rolf Harris painted an impressionistic, informal portrait of Queen Elizabeth II which was commissioned for a BBC documentary broadcast in 2006 and is featured on the international rate stamp ($2.25). Born in 1930 in Perth, Harris has enjoyed a multi-faceted career as a television entertainer and musician, artist and writer residing in the United Kingdom since 1952. Harris was following a family tradition – his grandfather George Frederick Harris painted a portrait of the Queen's grandfather, King George V.
Queen Elizabeth II was born on 21 April 1926 and christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. The Queen was the first child of The Duke and Duchess of York, who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. In 1952, at the age of 25, Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth became Queen. Two years later the Queen made her first visit to Australia and since then has made many tours of the country.
Following tradition, the official Monarch’s birthday is celebrated every year in June, with the exception of Western Australia where it occurs in late September or early October. To honour the Queen’s birthday in Australia an annual ceremony is held at the Royal Military College at Duntroon in the Australian Capital Territory.
The Queen’s 85th birthday stamps were designed by Lynette Traynor from the Australia Post design studio. Included among Lynette’s recent stamp designs are Kokoda and the National Service Memorial stamp issues of 2010.
The Queen’s 85th birthday stamp products include a stamp and coin cover, minisheet, first day cover, stamp pack, and a set of maxicards. The stamp and associated products are available from participating Australia Post retail outlets, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online at www.auspost.com.au/stamps from 5 April 2011 while stocks last.