Monday 3 September 2018

Surprise addition to the 2018 stamp programme from Royal Mail

Readers will know that Royal Mail have a surprise up their sleeves for 16th October.  It will almost certainly be another bumper blockbuster issue to appeal to more than just stamp collectors, and will be accompanied by a variety of framed or novelty add-ons as Star Wars has been in the past.  I still don't know what the subject is, but I heard a whisper.  

However, a couple of readers have told me about the latest communication from Royal Mail about their standing order, which shows an issue on 10th October.  This has the title 'United for Wildlife' priced at £15.95 plus 45p delivery charge.  Although much cheaper than I expected for the blckbuster, I thought this was going to be another cryptic codeword with nothing to do with the stamp subject - Camelot was used for one of the Star Wars issues, I think.

[7 September updates in blue now that Royal Mail have issued details to the Trade.]

But the September Philatelic Bulletin received today shows a forthcoming issue with just that title:
United for Wildlife: Smilers Commemorative Sheet (10 x 1st class stamps with backing card).
I thought they had given up on these spurious sheets - doubtless we will find out soon just why this is necessary, apart from adding to Royal Mail's income.  The trade haven't been made aware of this in advance of it being mentioned in the Bulletin and ordinary customers being billed for it.
Technical details: printed by ISP in litho on self-adhesive paper, A4, with stamps 24 x 20 mm.

UPDATE:  Searching the web I find the website which explains:
United for Wildlife was created by The Royal Foundation. Led by The Duke of Cambridge, our campaign unites the world’s leading wildlife charities under a common purpose: to create a global movement for change.
Whilst animals continue to be killed by criminals, whilst whole species are poached to extinction, we will join together to ask one simple question: Whose side are you on?
With the help of our incredible ambassadors from around the world, including David Beckham, Andy Murray and Chris Froome, we’re building a movement that will make a real change for wildlife.
“I believe passionately that we have a duty to prevent critically endangered species from being wiped out. If we get together, everywhere, we can preserve these animals so that they share our world with future generations. That’s what United for Wildlife is all about, and why I’m proud to be involved.”

HRH The Duke of Cambridge,
President of United for Wildlife
I understand the sheet uses the Royal Seal 1st class stamp with labels showing the most endangered species - elephants, rhinos etc.  This explains everything except why this type of stamp product will be useful to the campaign. There was widespread publicity yesterday (see below) when the Duke visited the Royal Mail's Worldwide International Logistics Centre at Heathrow Airport to see how United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce members are working together to disrupt attempts to traffic illegal wildlife products.  But ordinary members of the public won't see the sheets.

[Image of sheet now available - click to see it larger.]



I've been asked to explain these two images - my apologies I thought that everybody knew the format for these premium-priced Commemorative Sheets.  This is an earlier one, showing how the stamps are held in the card sleeve, which is itself in a clear cellophane pocket.  The picture at left with the tiger at the top is the inside, the tiger folds over to show the subject title as shown (inverted) on the right, with the text and images on the reverse shown below it.

United for Wildlife is one of many projects created by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.  Led by The Duke of Cambridge and with the help of ambassadors from around the world and key partner organisations, it unites the world’s leading wildlife charities under a common purpose: to create a global movement for change.

The organisation is committed to: 

>  Better On-Site Protection for wildlife. 
>  Reduce demand for illegal wildlife products.
>  Improve law enforcement.
>  Work with the private sector to reduce trafficking.
In 2014 United for Wildlife created a Transport Taskforce, of leaders from the global transportation industry, to identify opportunities to break the illegal wildlife trade chain between suppliers and consumers. Royal Mail are members of this Taskforce and work with enforcement agencies to support the action.
> Engage young people with conservation

Labels show the animals in danger.
Cheetahs - hunted as pets and for their coats;
African elephants - poached for ivory tusks;
Tigers - hunted for bones, teeth and skins maybe only 3200 left;
Asian and African pangolin - hunted for scales and meat;
Indian rhinoceros - one of the most endangered with only 65 of the Java species remaining;
Lions - about 20,000 left in the wild;
African rhinoceros - only about 25,000 left compared with 500,000 in 1900.

6 September UPDATE: This has been in the news today as The Duke of Cambridge was presented with a special commemorative sheet demonstrating the work of United for Wildlife and the Transport Taskforce:


  1. How dull this Smilers issue is! 'Workshy Wills' worries about cuddly animals abroad. If there will be a 'blockbuster' on October 16th about films or television it has to be better to collect than this. The creation of Anzac perhaps or Poldark. Better than sycophantic monarchist issues methinks...

    1. I'm pleased to see that the sensible readership of this blog have decided not to take you on about your anti-monarchist views which certainly have no place here. I'll defend free speech, but I'll not permit this blog to be used as a vehicle for your silliness. "Cuddly animals" deserve protection as much as you do.

    2. Royal Mail is now a company, not part of Government so does not have to promote the monarchy any more. Issues like The Game of Thrones or Star Wars with exciting images of space rockets or pretty actresses are bound to sell far better than Prince Charles in a dinner jacket, so that is the way that commemorative stamps are bound to go.

  2. Will Royal Mail be donating a percentage from the sales of this issue to their s worthy cause? 🤔

    1. On that subject, I wonder how much of the profits from all the Great War issues and associated products have been donated to the relevant charities?

  3. Ian, You say that a couple of readers have had a note saying that the 'Wildlife' sheet will cost £15.95. The 10,1st class stamps will cost £6.70, so presumably the remaining £9.25 will possibly be for more NVCs. The only way I can work this out is as follows:
    Signed For Large (not yet on SBP2)£2.11.
    Machin £1.17, £1.40, £1.57 Total £4.14.(Exist on SBP2 by DLR)
    High Value £3.00 (Plain backing paper DLR)
    We wait to see in October.

    1. The cost of the Commemorative Sheet, as the last one, is £15.95, plus delivery 45p = £16.40.

      There is nothing to work out - that's it.

  4. Thanks for the information Ian. I was getting confused because of all the types of sheets the Royal Mail produce which don't have a surcharge but which attract different names : generic, smilers, collectors, composite. I get these on standing order but not the expensive 'Commemorative' ones. There is a further confusion because the WW1 composite sheet, which has no surcharge, will not be issued to standing orders customers because it is a limited edition. Oh dear ! I was quite proud of my 'research'.

  5. I had better start by saying I am a Royalist before you shoot me down Ian! I think this issue and Prince Charles 70th Birthday are undoubtedly Royal Mail Sucking up to the Royals. The Armistice had a 90th Anniversary but the Centenary nothing, Royals more important!

    John Embrey


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