May 2018. At the end of last year, the UK’s postal service Royal Mail applied for an unusual trademark registration: the head of Queen Elizabeth II. The image in question is the same one that has appeared on UK stamps since 1967. On 9 April, Royal Mail added a second application, this time for an image of The Queen’s silhouette.

UK trademark registrations: left, the December 2017 registration and right, that of 9 April 2018


Royal Mail appears to have big plans for these trademarks, since they’ve been registered for a very wide range of products from continental quilts to beer-mats and from mugs to mousepads.

King Willem Alexander

You couldn’t imagine a company in the Netherlands registering a similar image of King Willem Alexander’s head. That would immediately prompt questions in parliament, threatening letters from the Dutch Government Information Service and possibly even an objection from the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property claiming that such a trademark is an offence against public order.

No legal action so far

Yet despite the UK newspaper The Daily Express reporting mutterings within the British royal family, the registration is progressing unhindered and Her Majesty doesn’t (yet) seem to be about to take legal action. But of course, things could change…