Vendors rejoice at British royal wedding

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For memorabilia with a twist, Royal Crown Derby has a set of white and gold swan paperweights, called William and Catherine, with necks curved to represent a heart. Cygnet paperweights can come soon, too _ the company is already lining up designs for the next range, in anticipation of royal babies.

“It won’t be long before we start (product) modeling for children,” sales director Simon Willis said.

Suitably for such a fairytale wedding, the company is also making a royal Welsh dragon _ the mythical symbol of Wales, where William is based. The designers have been creative with the product line: there are also W&C monogram heart-shaped trays, wedding bells, a set of dwarfs wearing commemorative hats, and a paperweight featuring a hand-painted peacock and roses that will cost more than 3,000 pounds ($4,665) each.

Royal fans on a commoner’s budget need not despair. Easy access to digital technology means that almost anyone can print a picture of William on a mug, and many cheaply made T-shirts, tea towels and thimbles are up for grabs on the auction site eBay.com.

Just don’t count on them becoming cash in the attic a decade or two on: Hundreds of souvenir items like biscuit tins and stamps marking Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s 1981 nuptials swamp the site, with few inviting much bidding interest.

The list of businesses taking advantage of the royal wedding craze goes on.

The supermarket chain Tesco is targeting women who want to copy Middleton’s style on the cheap with a 16-pound ($25) version of her dark blue silk engagement dress, while QVC, an online and television shopping company, said sales of its 34-pound ($53) “diamonique” knockoff of Middleton’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring rocketed 800 percent the day after the engagement.

All that merchandise can add up to as much as 18 million pounds ($28 million) of retail sales, said Neil Saunders, consulting director of retail researchers Verdict. And that’s just the engagement _ the wedding itself can bring in more than 26 million pounds ($40 million), Saunders said, on top of the hundreds of millions that tourists already spend every year on visiting palaces and buying monarchy-related souvenirs.

For Ron Smith, who runs an online business selling royal commemorative items, the meaning of collecting royal products has changed since the Victorian times when subjects collected those items to show their allegiance to the British crown. Smith said he has taken many inquiries about the upcoming royal wedding from non-Commonwealth locales such as Alaska and Japan, as well as from royalists in Canada.

“People these days don’t buy it because they are loyal to the crown,” he said, adding that many of his clients are middle-aged or older and simply started collecting things once they retired and found little else to do.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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