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William and Kate’s tiny prince, George, is good for business

Birth, baptism of heir to throne spur sales

- - Tuesday, October 22, 2013

LONDON — From commemorative cups to special coins worth more than $80,000, the newest member of Britain's royal family is a boon to business — and he is only 3 months old.

As Prince George is readied for his christening Wednesday, shopkeepers and online merchants are filling orders at a record pace.

George — son of William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — is scheduled to be baptized by the archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican Communion, in a private ceremony at London's St. James' Palace. Queen Elizabeth II and members of the royal family are scheduled to attend the ceremony.

Nina Elvin-Jensen, founder of littledelivery.com, said her company, which specializes in gifts for infants, experienced a "surge" in international sales when George was born July 22, and she is ready for another increase from the baptism.

"The royal baby suddenly put English businesses in the global spotlight," she said. "We were lucky to be a small [British] business that hugely benefited from this international exposure."

"Sales were up 500 percent and we noticed a fivefold increase in visitors coming to the website, not just from the U.K., but from almost every country around the world," she added.

Some attribute that interest to a desire to feel part of the milestone event.

"There is an interesting social change whereby the public has a desire to be involved and have their own children involved with this special occasion," said Daniel Price, managing director of My1stYears.com.

"The royal family as a brand has had a big impact on our small business and offers many British brands the opportunity to celebrate their heritage and grow."

Thanks to the worldwide appeal of baby George, the third in line to the British throne is widely regarded as the greatest global ambassador with an ability to impact the British economy.

Joshua Bamfield, director of England's Center for Retail Research, has said that spending on commemorative items related to George's birth boosted the economy by $400 million.

He said the christening would be viewed as the first royal engagement for Prince George and a "very important milestone" to officially and publicly welcome the child.

"The royal baby has certainly had a positive impact on both the U.K.'s feel-good factor and, ultimately, the economy," he said.

Last month, London's Evening Standard newspaper named Prince George as the most influential Briton on a list of more than 1,000 prominent people in the United Kingdom.

He topped Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson, who were among the top five on the list.

Yannick Naud of London's Glendevon King Asset Management company said the royal family as a British brand helped influence exports and tourism.

"It is fair to say for tourism alone, Prince George already has a higher impact than, say, Prince Charles," he said.

"The real impact will be felt long term. If you survey tourists entering the country and ask why they are visiting, the royal family will be one of the top reasons."

Colin Chester, head buyer London's National Gallery, said commemorative mugs, tea towels and special edition books to mark the birth of the young royal had already boosted this year's sales figures.

"It was important for us to stock a small range of royal baby merchandise as we knew it would be highly sought after by our customers, both in Britain and internationally," he said.

However, not everyone thinks the attention received by the royal family is positive.

Kelly Spring, a 26-year-old New Zealand native working in London, complained that the British have an unhealthy addiction to the royals.

"The attention on Prince George and the rest of the clan is unnecessary," she said. "British people treat them like their extended family."

Prince George is the only royal baby to be honored with christening coins from the Royal Mint, which has produced a limited-edition range of coins costing from $8 to more than $80,800.