LONDON — The wait is over. Kate Middleton has given birth. And across the capital, street vendors are rejoicing. The new royal baby is great news for UK plc.
The tourists that flocked to Buckingham Palace and the Royal Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital, London, to take part in the grand sense of occasion that typifies a royal birth will likely be looking for something permanent to mark the event; photos can fade as fast as memories. And so the group of tourist tchotchke sellers just down the Mall in London have made meticulous plans to capitalise on the innate human desire to buy tat on momentous occasions like these.
Production lines in Britain and across the globe are on standby, waiting for confirmation of the royal baby’s name before they move into action, producing souvenirs that will line shelves in London and across the country in a matter of days.
This will be the second wave of baby merchandise for some manufacturers. Emma Bridgewater, based in the Potteries city of Stoke-on-Trent, has already produced one line of products around the royal birth. In December 2012 it produced its ‘A Royal Baby in 2013’ mug, priced at £19.95 ($30). (The company declined to tell BuzzFeed how many of these mugs it had sold.)
Regardless, anything royal is big business for companies selling souvenirs. The UK is coming off a bumper year of events that were profitable for those selling memorabilia. The 2012 London Olympics co-incided with the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations - two events that retail analysts the Centre for Retail Research estimated were worth £300m ($458m) to the UK economy through souvenir sales alone. The year before the wedding of the new baby’s parents produced a range of merchandise that caused Britons and tourists to part with £199m ($304m).
Yesterday the Centre for Retail Research came out with an estimated figure of the economic impact the as-yet unnamed Prince of Cambridge will have on the nation: Britons will spend £62m on champagne, gin and other alcohol; £156m on commemorative items; and £25m on food for parties held in the Prince’s honour.
Even the Royal Family is getting in on the act. The Royal Collection Trust, a company whose chairman is the baby’s grandfather, Prince Charles, will be producing its own line of souvenirs once the child’s name is announced.
And on the streets of London souvenir hawkers are waiting for their orders to arrive, ready to capitalise on the need to mark the occasion with a trinket.
The Royal family is estimated by Brand Finance, a consultancy, to be a net economic benefit to the economy thanks to the tourist income it brings in for the country - some of which is spent on souvenirs.
Britain is divided between royalists and republicans who argue over the cost of the royals to taxpayers (official figures for 2011 say each person paid 52p in tax for the family’s upkeep.)
It’s likely that with a new generation of royalty now welcomed into the world, such souvenir spending will go even higher in the coming weeks and months as tourists and arch royalists aim to commemorate the event.