If you live in the United Kingdom or have recently visited, you may have noticed that British red post boxes have some writing on them. There are two most common post boxes that can be categorized by their embossed writing:
- The GR post box
- The ER post box.
What is the meaning of these letters on the postboxes?
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On many postboxes, the clue to the meaning of these letters is on the postbox itself because you’ll often find these letters seen right next to a crown.
The letters are called the “Royal Cypher” and they signify the King or Queen that was the monarch at the time when the postbox was erected.
A GR post box was put up during the era of King George (G stands for George, R stands for Rex, which is King in Latin). If there are no more letters around the GR, then it’s likely from the period of King George V, and if it’s from the era of King George VI you may notice a little “VI” next to the GR.
An ER post box was set up either during the rule of King Edward or during the time of Queen Elizabeth (E standing for Elizabeth or Edward, and R standing either for Rex or for Regina which is Queen in Latin). To know the exact monarch the postbox is honoring, have a look at the accompanying numbers. For example, if you notice a little “II” near the ER it indicates the postbox was installed in the era of Elizabeth II rather than in Edwardian times. Likewise, a “VII” or “VIII” after the ER indicates the E stands for Edward. You’ll never see a postbox from Elizabeth I’s era since she reigned between 1558-1603, long before the first red pillar post box was put up (in 1853).
Although GR and ER postboxes are perhaps the most commonly seen post boxes, you may also spot a VR on occasion. Next time you’re next to a post box, look out for these letters to work out when it was installed:
- VR post box – Queen Victoria (postbox put up between 1853-1901)
- ER VII post box – Edward VII (postbox put up between 1901-1910)
- GR post box – George V (postbox put up between 1910-1936)
- ER VIII post box – Edward VIII (postbox put up between 20 January 1936 – 11 December 1936 before he abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson)
- GR VI post box – George VI (aka Bertie from the King’s Speech: postbox put up between 1936-1952)
- ER II post box – Elizabeth II (postbox put up between 1952-recently)
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