Document: Birth of the Gandhi Centenary Stamp December 19, 1968

Document: Birth of the Gandhi Centenary Stamp December 19, 1968

In 1969 Stonehouse, as Postmaster General, was approached by Lord Mountbatten, (known as Mountbatten of Burma at the time), about including a Gandhi birth centenary stamp in the postal program. Here are the letters that detail Mountbatten’s request, Stonehouse’s initial reluctance and his final agreement.

Document #2
19th December 1968  
I am writing in my capacity as Chairman of the UK Gandhi Centenary Committee which the President of India invited me to take and which, with the concurrence of Her Majesty’s Government, I accepted.

As a first step I formed a very high-powered Committee and from this Committee have selected a small Working Committee of about ten people. At a recent meeting of this Working Committee it was suggested as one of the possible projects for this Centenary Year that a Commemorative Stamp should be issued. The Committee thought this was an excellent idea but the representative from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office pointed out that Lord Shepherd had already raised this matter with you and that you had turned it down for reasons, I gather, that you cannot celebrate every important event and that you must be selective.
Nevertheless the Committee were unanimous in their decision that I should write and ask you to reconsider this suggestion in view of the special significance this Centenary has for the people of Britain – Gandhi received his education in England and British civilization had an impact on him; throughout his life he retained a deep affection for the British people.
It was also pointed out that of the other 25 countries celebrating this Centenary, several were believed to be contemplating issuing Gandhi Commemorative Stamps and the Committee felt that in view of our special close ties with India and with Gandhi himself, it would be most unfortunate if we lagged behind the tributes paid by other countries in the philatelic world.

Yours Sincerely,
Mountbatten of Burma

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