Charles, Di Breakup Could Start Run on Royalty Souvenirs
LONDON (AP) _ The separation of Prince Charles and Princess Diana saddened millions of Britons but left some merchants hoping to sell more coffee cups, postcards and T-shirts showing the couple in happier times.
Troubles for the royals, with the attendant publicity, can mean brisk sales for the curios found within easy walking distance of all major tourist haunts.
″When it was Fergie and Andrew, we had only been selling a few of their things, and then they started selling,″ said Teri Carvalho at Churchill Gifts on Oxford Street. Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, Prince Andrew, and his wife, the former Sarah Ferguson, separated in the spring.
Patel Gautan at London Souvenirs on Buckingham Palace Road was less optimistic, saying he would probably have to wait for warmer weather to bring in busloads of middle-aged and elderly Americans before clearing out his Charles and Diana paraphernalia.
″Not today, but in summertime, yes,″ Gautan said.
Britain’s royal family can be a boon to many businesses now hoping they can weather the storm surrounding the Charles-Diana separation, officially announced by Prime Minister John Major on Wednesday.
The separation will no doubt help Britain’s aggressive tabloid press barons sell more newspapers, as they have been for months while the story unfolded in big, black headlines on their front pages.
But other businesses able to cash in on the larger-than-life image of the royal family may not do so well as the royals become increasingly human in the eyes of their subjects.
The tourism industry is perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the public’s fascination with royalty. Britain’s castles and royal palaces are a big drawing card.
″Our overseas offices recorded a noticeable rise in inquiries about Britain following the Prince and Princess of Wales’s wedding in 1981,″ the British Tourist Authority said in a statement issued last spring.
The tourist authority estimated that 20 percent of London’s long-haul visitors come ″because of its history and pageantry, and royalty - past and present.″
But a tourist authority spokeswoman dismissed suggestions that the royal split could dampen the enthusiasm that the marriage had once kindled.
″I think there will be a flurry of interest in the royal family, but I don’t think there will be any appreciable long-term effect,″ Pat Murray said. ″I think people are just as interested as they ever were in the royal family and the pageantry and the sites.″
The monarchy also brings money to businesses through coveted royal warrants, seals testifying that such upscale retailers as Harrods or such manufacturers as tea maker Twinings supply members of the royal family. They are the royal equivalent of Michael Jordan endorsing Wheaties cereal, though the endorsement is more refined.
For example, boxes of Twinings tea, sold throughout the United States as well as Britain, carry a royal seal and the inscription ″By appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.″
Would such words take on less grandeur if the throne were someday occupied by a separated, but not divorced Charles and Diana? Major acknowledged before Parliament that this could happen - an idea not warmly embraced by all Britons.