Royal Pillar Boxes
Posted on 4th April 2019 at 12:43
Recent UK pillar boxes have the initials ERII (Elizabeth Regina II), while older ones are inscribed with GVIR, GVR, and more, with some going as far back as to have VR on them (for Queen Victoria). Instead, Scottish post boxes have the Scottish crown, the words “post office”, or some combination of the two.
Recently in Dunoon, Scotland, however, a new post box was installed on the town’s Alexandra Parade and to the annoyance of many residents of the seaside town the box bears the EIIR insignia of Queen Elizabeth II. The current British monarch is the first to bear the name Elizabeth in Scotland – the previous Elizabeth reigned over England while Mary was Queen of Scots.
The crowns of the two countries were united in 1603, after the death of Elizabeth. After the current monarch came to the throne in 1952, postboxes in the UK were given the EIIR branding, much to the annoyance of Scots. After one such pillar box was blown up in Edinburgh, and many were vandalised in what became known as the ‘pillar box wars’, the then General Post Office developed a specific Scottish marking, called a ‘cypher’, for its red pillar boxes north of the border.
In 1953, John MacCormick took legal action to challenge the right of the Queen to call herself Elizabeth the Second. The case failed on the grounds that the matter was within the Royal Prerogative and thus the Queen was free to adopt any title she saw fit.
It seems the Dunoon pillar box was erected in error. Royal Mail apologised and a spokesperson saying the organisation is “proud of our uniquely Scottish cypher”.
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