King uses the same famous red box as his mother and grandfather

The king will use the same famous red box as his mother and grandfather, after carefully restoring it using techniques passed down from generation to generation.

It is believed that Charles wanted to repurpose his mother, Queen Elizabeth II’s shipping box, which itself was used first by her grandfather, King George V, and then by her father, King George VI.

The box, which is the first in a series of boxes being sent to Charles, has been restored by British luxury leather goods company Barrow Hepburn & Gale.

King Charles III new cipher
The engraved brass stamp created to engrave King Charles III’s cipher. To be embossed on the famous red shipping boxes (Barrow Hepburn & Gale/PA)

The company’s famous red boxes carry important papers, including those requiring signatures, briefing documents, and information about upcoming meetings.

The company, first founded in 1760, uses special techniques to hand clean and condition the existing red leather of boxes that are being refurbished.

Also known as skiving, the thickness of the leather is carefully reduced by hand with a blade before the leather is carefully applied to the box.

New leather pieces are also hand polished to ensure every edge is strengthened and protected.

Photos of the red box show the lock stamped ‘King George V’.

Shipping box of King Charles III
Detail of the lock on King Charles’ first shipping box (Barrow Hepburn & Gale/PA)

The box is also embossed with a coronation crown and also bears King Charles III’s cipher applied in gold leaf with a specially made brass die.

Not all red boxes used by royals and government can be repurposed, but some are in good enough condition to be restored to life.

The King’s Cipher will be featured extensively on Government shipping boxes and other official Barrow Hepburn & Gale merchandise.

The cost of the boxes is never released by the company, although restoring existing boxes is cheaper than buying new ones.

On its website, Barrow Hepburn & Gale says its boxes “follow their owner around the world, making sure they can do the job of their office”.

Shipping box of King Charles III
Detail of maker and year on King Charles’ first mailer box (Barrow Hepburn & Gale/PA)

It adds: “Wherever the sovereign or minister is in the world, the red box is nearby.

“Our shipping boxes not only have an elegant design, they are also functional and safe.”

The king is expected to receive about a dozen boxes over a period of several months.

In a Facebook social media post in September 2015, the royal family account said the Queen received red boxes every day of her reign, including weekends, but not on Christmas Day.

Regarding the history of boxes, Barrow Hepburn & Gale said that the modern role of boxes in the governance process “has not changed for over a century”.

It added: “There are two possible reasons why the shipping box became the iconic red colour.

“The widely accepted reason relates to Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort, who is said to have preferred the color as it was prominently used in the coats of arms of his Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family.

“However, there is a school of thought whose origins date back to the late 16th century, when Queen Elizabeth I’s representative, Francis Throckmorton, presented the Spanish Ambassador, Bernardino de Mendoza, with a specially constructed red briefcase containing black pudding.

“It was considered an official communication from the Queen, and so the color red became the official color of the state.”