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Friday, October 23, 1998 Published at 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK


Queen's head goes up in smoke

The Queen's head is seen to be going up in smoke in a new design for a postage stamp.

The Royal Mail Millennium stamp shows her silhouette coming out of a smoke-belching industrial chimney stack.

Court Correspondent Jenny Bond: Queen amused at head of smoke stamp
And because Royal Mail had already printed millions of the stamps before it received the Queen's official approval, it is too late for a redesign.

Buckingham Palace said: "The Queen approved the stamp but noted that her head appeared to be coming out of a chimney.

"We recognise that it is not practicable to ask Royal Mail to pulp the stamps. Their design is a matter for Royal Mail."

Designed by Peter Howson, the stamp depicting steam power is due to go on sale on January 12. It is one of a set of four commemorating inventors.

Stamp expert Peter Jennings, a Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society, London, said: "It is a mockery when stamps are printed before they have been approved by the Queen.

"If the Queen makes an objection to a stamp, it should be redesigned.

"In view of this latest and most serious faux pas, I wonder if Barry Robinson, Design Director of Royal Mail, and Adam Novak, Director and General Manager of Royal Mail National and Chairman of the Stamp Advisory Committee, still enjoy the full confidence of the Post Office Board?"

A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: "The Queen always sees proofs of stamps for approval.

"She has approved this design, otherwise it would not be issued."

Royal Mail plans to issue four stamps every month in 1999, looking back over the past 1,000 years of British history and achievement.

Internationally-acclaimed artists have agreed to create the 48 Millennium stamps.

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